When purchasing a fire extinguisher for your home, there are a couple important things you need to know. Fire extinguishers are rated for different types of fires. Class A is for regular materials like wood, cardboard and cloth, Class B works on flammable liquids, such as gas, oil and grease, and Class C is for electrical equipment, like wires and fuse boxes.
If you have a Class B or a C extinguisher, you can use them on type-A fires. But it's bad news to use water or a Class A extinguisher on grease or electrical fires. So, your best bet is to look for an extinguisher that is rated A-B-C. That way, you'll be covered for any type of emergency.
Home fire extinguishers are also rated for the size of fire they can deal with; larger numbers can handle bigger fires. This is important information because most portable fire extinguishers completely discharge in around 8 seconds, so you're not going to want to tackle a raging inferno with a small, lightweight extinguisher.
Your fire extinguisher should be installed in plain view and you should always perform the maintenance suggested by the manufacturer. In the unfortunate case that you'll have to use your fire extinguisher, you should start by standing at least 6 to 8 feet away and remember the PASS procedure:
- Pull the pin out.
- Aim low. You'll want to point the nozzle at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever below the handle.
- Sweep from side to side while carefully moving toward the fire.
Do this until the flames are out and then watch the fire area for a while. If the fire re-ignites then repeat the process. Most importantly, if you can't get the fire out then you need to evacuate the premises immediately and call the fire department.