Random thought of the day: We dont have an extinguisher in the house.
I want to get one, but never seen them on sale anywhere. Does the local fire station have them for sale? Are they just not in the areas I’ve wandered through? I’m also curious how much they are and how long they last (assuming you don’t use it and it just sits in the corner)
I bought one at Canadian Tire last year - it has a pressure gauge on it, and when the arrow goes outside the green area on the gauge, it’s time to replace the extinguisher. I haven’t noticed a change in the gauge since I got it.
You should be able to purchase residential-grade dry chemical fire extinguishers at any hardware store. Most of these are not rechargeable and are certified for five or six years. There are some smaller “kitchen” fire extinguishers that do not have a pressure gauge (and are basically worthless), but larger extinguishers and all rechargeable will have a gauge on the neck that indicates its status.
Make certain you get an extinguisher that is suitable for the type of fire you are likely to encounter (Type ABC for general use, Type B for kitchen and garage, Type C for electronics), learn how to use it properly, and realize its limitations. Anything less than a 20 lb fire extinguisher is basically worthless for any fire that is larger in size than 2 ft diameter; that that point, the rapidity that a fire can expand is astonishing and you should collect loved ones and retreat the area. CO2 fire extinguishers are particularly notorious for appearing to suppress a fire and then letting it start up again as soon as oxygen can return, so once you’ve started extinguishing a fire you should continue until the extinguisher is exhausted or you’ve decided to retreat.
These things are actually pretty useless in terms of fire suppression. They have a firing time of about 3-4 seconds and if improperly used can actually spread the fire, i.e. spraying onto a grease fire. The best fire suppression for kitchen fires is actually a large box of baking soda. I’ve worked in commercial kitchens where small grease fires are fairly commonplace (owing to sloppy housekeeping) and we never used a fire extinguisher, just b.s., wet towels, and a lot of cursing.
Not sure what your particular situation is but it may behoove you to also pick up an extra extinguisher for the garage. For some of us the car, lawnmower, trimmer, edger, leaf blower, gas cans, stored solvents, etc all necessitate having a dedicated extinguisher on hand and ready for immediate use without having to first run back and forth from the kitchen.
Fires by classification:
[li]A - general solid objects like wood, paper, most plastics[/li][li]B - liquids, including cooking grease, petroleum, alcohols, and plastics not covered in A[/li][li]C - Electrical fires. If you can remove the electricity from the event, these become Class As[/li][li]D - Metal fires. You won’t have these in the house unless you like to collect metallic sodium or magnesium[/li][/ul]
The trickiest fires to deal with in the house are liquids, because they can be spread while trying to extinguish them as previously mentioned. A dry chemical extinguisher is best for those, Class ABC types. The little ones that were poopooed previously ARE adequate for a burning pot or skillet, but not much more. Have one in the kitchen, mounted away from the stove, but also have a bigger one nearby.
CO[sub]2[/sub] extinguishers are persnickety beasts that require annual maintenance, and are unsuitable for general household use. If you can get you hands on a functional Halon unit, they’re worth their weight in gold, but the bunnyhuggers have killed them off. Dry chemical extinguishers are usually filled with sodium bicarbonate. They also make one mell of a hess when you pull the trigger.
It will take some digging; I can bore y’all with size classifications if you’re interested.
Know your extinguisher’s capacity, and don’t try to fight a house fire with one. The oxygen will deplete rapidly, and you are in serious doodoo when the oxygen level gets below 18%. Unconsciousness happens in about 15 seconds in a depleted atmosphere.
Not all ABC extinguishers are sodium bicarb, just to clarify. Some will have it along with other chemicals, and others won’t have any.
If you have to pull the trigger, call the fire department even if you think you got it all.
We got our ABC extinguisher at Sam’s Club; as I recall, it was pretty cheap, maybe $20-25. And it’s a pretty good-sized beast, with a pressure gauge and everything. We were required to get one as part of our adoption home-study, and we were told that Sam’s was a good, inexpensive place to get one.
Thanks for the answers. I’m in LA, and mainly the extinguisher will be used to deal with inexplicable stove fires. I have a fear that I’d be cooking something with hot oil on the pan and it bursts in the flames. I know not to throw water at it, but I’d like the peace of mind of an extinguisher just in case. I’ll pick one up this weekend at one of those stores.
The best thing to do for a contained grease fire is to toss loose baking soda and cover the pan to smoother it, then remove from the heat source to let it cool below flame temp. The mistake many people make with deep fryers is to spray into the oil, which just splatters burning oil everywhere. You can buy a Class B extinguisher with low exhaust pressure specifically for kitchen fires but it isn’t especially more effective than a big box of Arm & Hammer at ten times the cost.
The best way to avoid grease fires is to keep the cooking surface clear of grease or flammables and make certain that you don’t get a large pot of oil above the flame temp. (Deep frying is best done in a dedicated electric fryer with an automatic temperature control, and external oil burners (like with a turkey fryer) should be done outside, away from structure and flammables. I’ve never seen a grease fire that wasn’t due to gross negligence and carelessness.