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A Quick Guide to Buying a Fire Extinguisher

Want to make your home a safer place? Purchase a few fire extinguishers! Not only is this easy, it’s so important that it’s one of the first things we recommend you do when you create a BrightNest account! That being said, different fire extinguishers are designed for different areas and types of fires, so you don’t want to just grab the first one you see.

Here are five important factors to consider when buying a fire extinguisher:

Size

This is a situation where bigger is better, but only to a certain extent. The larger the extinguisher, the larger the fire it will be able to put out. BUT, if it’s so heavy you can’t even pick it up, it’s not going to save you from any disasters. Generally, anything over nine pounds is going to be a bit unwieldy, so shoot for that range or lighter.

Certifications, Pressure and Manufacture Date

You want an extinguisher that’s been approved by the Underwriters Laboratory. Look for a “UL” symbol somewhere on the package, or in the product description if you’re purchasing online. Also check to make sure the extinguisher’s pressure gauge reads “full” and that it was made within the last year. Note: Unfortunately, not all manufacturers provide dates on the extinguisher, so you may have to hunt around a bit.

Class of Firefighting Agent

This part can be a little overwhelming at first, but it’s actually not as complicated as it seems. There are three classes of fire extinguisher that homeowners should consider: A, B and C. The three separate classes correspond to different ingredients, and each one has different firefighting capabilities. You can also get combination extinguishers that are suited for multiple situations. Here’s a quick summary of the different classes: 

  • A Class: Meant for ordinary combustibles such as wood, trash or paper. These are good household extinguishers, but it’s important to note that they’re water-based, which means they should not be used for electrical or chemical fires.
  • B Class: Meant for liquid, gas or solvent fires. This makes them especially handy to have in the kitchen, where grease fires are common.
  • C Class: Meant for electrical fires. These chemical-based extinguishers will not conduct electricity, and are designed for fires involving things like outlets, wires or appliances. Over fifty percent of residential fires involve electrical wiring, so you definitely want an extinguisher with C Class capabilities around!

Since you can’t predict what type of fire you may encounter in your house, it’s a good idea to have at least one multi-class fire extinguisher (ABC). These can be a little bit more expensive, but the extra versatility in an emergency is well worth the added price.

The Number of Fire Extinguishers You Need

The National Fire Protection Association recommends you keep at least one fire extinguisher in your kitchen (ideally a B- or ABC-class) and one in your garage (ideally a BC- or ABC-class). They also recommend that you keep one on every level of your home for easy access in an emergency.

Price

The cost of your extinguisher will vary depending on size and type. However, you should be able to find one that suits your needs for $20-$60 dollars at any home improvement store or online. Extinguishers that cost more than that are usually meant for industrial or office use 

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