A fire extinguisher can be a crucial piece of equipment in the event of a unexpected blaze, preventing property damage and even injuries. But any fire extinguisher isn't appropriate for every situation. Before you go out to buy a fire extinguisher for your kitchen or garage, understand the different types available and how they should be used.
Type B Fire Extinguishers
There are five kinds of fire extinguishers, and each must be labeled. A Type B is designed for fires involving flammable liquids. Among the liquids a Type B extinguisher is effective against are gas, oil, grease and oil-based paints.
Other Types of Extinguishers
The other kinds of fire extinguishers are type A, C, D and K, and all are designed for specific uses. Type A extinguishers are for fires involving combustibles such as paper, wood, cloth and plastics. Type C extinguishers are for electrical fires involving appliances and electrical devices, while type D's are for specific kinds of metals. A type K extinguisher can put out fires cause by combustible cooking oils. Some fire extinguishers are multipurpose tools that are effective against several types of fires. For example, an A-B-C extinguisher can put out a fire caused by combustibles, flammable liquids or electrical devices.
Using a Type B Extinguisher
Before you use a fire extinguisher you must determine whether it is safe to do so and whether the extinguisher available will be effective. Don't use a Type B extinguisher on a fire that isn't caused by a flammable liquid. And even if the fire is caused by a flammable liquid, make sure it's still safe to use it. If the fire has spread beyond the original material, if the flames are high or if the fire is creating noxious or dangerous fumes, evacuate the area, and allow the fire department to extinguish the blaze. If you can attempt to put out the fire, you should still call 9-1-1 or instruct someone else to do so. Also, make sure the fire does not block your exit, and evacuate all other people from the structure before putting the fire out.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
Inspect your fire extinguisher monthly to ensure it is in good repair. With each inspection, check to ensure that it is visible and not blocked in any way and that the label is properly affixed with the instructions for how to use it facing outward. make sure it is properly charged, and the needle on the pressure gauge is in the green area. Also make sure the pin and seal are intact. Check for corrosion or leakage, and replace any extinguisher that appears damaged or defective.
- Photo Credit fire extinguisher image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
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