According to a fire loss study done by the National Fire Protection Association, there are about 400,000 residential property fires in the U.S. each year, accounting for more than 3,700 human fatalities each year. Even when all other natural disasters are combined, fires still typically claim more American lives per year.
A fire extinguisher can be a powerful tool to prevent widespread fire loss. The best thing is that a fire extinguisher is a relatively cheap investment, with prices starting at around $20. There are five classes of extinguishers, and each class is marked with a class specific color, geometric symbol, and/or picture.
Types of fire extinguishers Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers. For example, a grease fire and an electrical fire require the use of different extinguishing agents to be effective and safely put the fire out.
There are also multi-purpose fire extinguishers - such as those labeled "B-C" or "A-B-C" - that can be used on two or more of the above type fires. See diagram below.
When to use a fire extinguisher Portable fire extinguishers are valuable for immediate use on small fires. They contain a limited amount of extinguishing material and need to be properly used so that this material is not wasted. For example, when a pan initially catches fire, it may be safe to turn off the burner, place a lid on the pan, and use an extinguisher. By the time the fire has spread, however, these actions will not be adequate. Only trained firefighters can safely extinguish such fires. Use a fire extinguisher only if all of these conditions are present:
If these conditions are not all present, alert other occupants, leave the building following your home escape plan, go to the agreed upon meeting place, and call the fire department from a cell phone or a neighbor's home.
Maintenance Fire extinguishers need to be regularly checked to ensure that:
Additionally . . .
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