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Choosing And Using The Most Suitable Fire Extinguisher For Your Home
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Fires can cause extensive damage to property besides endangering lives if allowed to spread unchecked. As a responsible homeowner it is a wise step for you to install fire detection systems and fire extinguishers to take care of such an eventuality should it ever occur.
Types of fire extinguishers for home use
Fires have different origins. Combustible material like wood, paper and fabric may catch fire. Fire may start due to burning of oil or grease. A gas leak can cause fires. Electrical short-circuits and sparking can lead to fires. Each type requires a different type of fire extinguisher for the job. Fire extinguishers types and applications may be classified as follows:
• Water based for wood, fabric and paper but not for oils, grease, gas or electrical fires.
• Foam based for wood, oils and flammable liquids but not for kitchen gas or electrical fires.
• CO2 based for flammable liquids and electrical fires but not recommended for fats or fabric fires.
• Dry powder based for wood, fabric, liquid, gas and electrical fires but not recommended for cooking oils and fats.
• Wet chemical based extinguishers for fabric and cooking fat but not for electrical and gases or flammable liquid based fires
These extinguishers are classified into various classes such as Class A (solid combustibles), Class B (flammable liquids, oil, grease, paints) and Class C (Electrical fires). Dry chemical fire extinguishers are the most versatile, useful in most types of fires and are classified as ABC or just BC to show the type of fires where they can be used. Foam extinguishers are recommended for Class A and B fires. Water based extinguishers are recommended only for Class A fires caused by combustion of wood, paper, plastics, rubber and cloth. CO2 extinguishers based on carbon dioxide gas are effective against fires caused by flammable liquids, oils, grease, paints and fires due to electrical short circuits (Class C). As can be seen, the dry type is the most practical for most homes since it can be used in almost all categories of fires.
Some might say it pays to have at least two different types of extinguishers in your home, one for general fires and another for fires caused due to electrical, gas or oil. For most people a product that carries Class ABC label is sufficient as their primary weapon while the firefighters are called in.
1 KG fire extinguisher with ABC classification is the minimum capacity available for domestic use and to carry about in vehicles. This may work to put out smaller fires. However, house owners should look at slightly higher capacities up to 3 or 5 Kgs. You may fix a small 600 ml aerosol foam extinguisher in the kitchen for emergency use but a larger size extinguisher located elsewhere and easily accessible is also necessary to fight and thoroughly douse fires. A point to keep in mind about sizing is that it should be portable, easy to carry and manoeuver by ladies and children as well. It is better to have two containers each of 5 kgs than a larger single unit that will be too heavy to lift and manipulate in a hurry. You can get expert advice from specialists in dealing in fire extinguishers London based.
These products usually carry a 5 year guarantee. Look for BSI Kitemarked products for home use. Check them periodically to ensure they are serviceable. If you buy the refillable type (a wiser option) points to check are the pressure, pin and tamper seal, dents and rust. Shake the container at periodic intervals to prevent powder settling down into a compact mass. If pressure has reduced then container requires a refill.
How to use
Learn to use the product. It is no use fumbling around as the fire spreads. The basics of operating a standard product are:
• Pull the pin
• Aim the nozzle at the fire
• Squeeze and then sweep the nozzle
You could conduct a mock drill and each family member can practise this routine. You may empty a small cannister this way but everyone learns and will be able to handle the product when needed.
Fire is your best friend and it can also be the worst enemy. Be prepared and you will never regret the expense.
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