- Replace the batteries twice a year. It's easiest to coordinate this with changing your clocks to and from Daylight Savings to remember to do it.
- Test them once a month.
- Replace them every 10 years.
- Locate them in every sleeping area and at least one on each level of the house for minimum protection. For better coverage, also install them outside of each sleeping area (hallway) in the (finished) attic and basement, at the top and bottom of all stairs and in frequently used rooms.
- Have at least one extinguisher per level of your home. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends one for every 600 square feet of home.
- Have at least one extinguisher for your kitchen, one for your garage, and one for your basement.
- You should also have one in your car, boat and RV.
- Buy an ABC extinguisher in order to cover any type of home fire possibility (these extinguish dry fires, chemical fires, and electrical fires). If you buy a water-based extinguisher it should NEVER be used on a chemical fire, including a kitchen fire, as it may only worsen the situation. An ABC extinguisher is best for all-around use.
- Check the gauge on your extinguisher once a month to insure that the arrow is pointing to the green area. If it is not, you need to replace your extinguisher.
- Once a month also verify that there is no physical damage to the outside of the extinguisher, the hose is not dry rotting, the nozzle is not obstructed, and the pin is still in place. Never "hold" the pin in with anything that is stronger than the break-away tie that often comes with them. DO NOT use a zip tie. Also, during this monthly inspection, flip the extinguisher upside down and then again rightside up a couple of times to "shake up" the contents. Otherwise the powder can settle and be less effective in a fire.
- Do not store extinguishers directly by a fire source (ie over a stove) as you might not be able to get to it in the event of a fire.
- Store them in a place that is easy to access, but out of reach of children.
- If you have to use one, assume it is empty and replace it with a new one.
- You might consider getting a "Purple K" extinguisher to fight kitchen fires specifically. Although ABC extinguishers can usually put out kitchen fires, Purple K extinguishers are designed for high heat fires that results from cooking mediums such as oils and fats. Warning when using these though...they use a gas that replaces the oxygen that is fueling the fire with carbon monoxide. Do not consider buying or using these if you need to use them in a small, contained area, as the person using the extinguisher needs plenty of room to breathe and an easy escape route with this one.
Fighting a Fire:
- Make sure family members are out of the house before trying to fight a fire. If you are unsuccessful it might be too late to get them out later.
- Make sure you have a clear route out before beginning to fight a fire.
- Don't be a hero. If the fire is not small or you cannot control it easily, get out and let the professionals handle it.
- Stand 6-10 feet away from the fire and point the nozzle at the base of the fire. Don't fully blast the extinguisher at the fire, as you might blow it in another direction and ignite another flammable object. Use light, short bursts to put out the fire.
- Establish a fire safety plan for your house. Make sure all family members know how to get out of different areas and where to meet once you are outside.
- Consider installing fire ladders in each upstairs bedroom. You might further consider installing them in each room upstairs that has a window.
- Make sure fire ladders are installed per the manufacturer's instructions for a proper fit.
So...in an effort to further educate you on fire safety as well as remind you (and myself) that this is an important part of home-making, this is my Works for Me Wednesday post. Now I need to go finish up some of this stuff, like investigating ladders that we could possibly use with small children!
Photo credit: AntiPainKiller