What starts out as a small fire might wind up developing into a blaze that engulfs your home (and destroys it). A spark in your electrical system, poor wiring in your oven, a candle left burning unattended, machinery or solvents in your garage—they could all be perfect triggers for devastating property damage.
Still, regardless of where a fire starts, you have to be able to put it out. Of course, calling the fire department is key to your security. It should not be your first line of defense, however. You should be extra prepared by having a fire extinguisher in your home. If you don’t, then it’s something to consider doing today. In the end, your home insurance agent might view the presence of one to your advantage.
What to Know When Buying a Fire Extinguisher
There are various types of fire extinguishers, from your average kitchen extinguisher to more sophisticated models. If your home contains substantial fire risks (such as if you do a lot of projects in your workshop), then you will often need a more sophisticated and powerful device.
1. Size Matters
When you buy a larger, heavier or more powerful extinguisher, then you are investing in more stopping power. In other words, large devices contain more fire retardant than smaller systems, of course. Additionally, a higher powder volume and a larger spraying apparatus will make the device work faster and have greater range of coverage. Keep in mind, however, that you should never invest in an extinguisher that is too heavy or too complicated for you to use at a moment’s notice.
2. Check To See What Retardant Your Extinguisher Contains
Different fire extinguishers are designed to serve different purposes. Generally, they are separated into different classes.
- Class A fire extinguishers are a basic model. They are ideal for putting out fires related to paper or plastic. They can help with wood and trash, too.
- Class B is the next level up. This type of best for grease fires or fires related to oil or solvent spills.
- Class C extinguishers are ideal for electrical fires.
In many cases, you can invest in combined A-B-C models, which will contain retardants that are designed to put out fires of the widest range of varieties.
3. Look for a Rating
When you choose an extinguisher, see if it has a rating attached. Numerous nationally recognized organizations rate devices—FM, UL, CSA, ETC to name a few—and they serve as the gold standards for certifying that your device is reputable and will function appropriately.
Of course, your fire extinguisher must be your first line of defense against a house fire. However, you must also recognize the moment when a fire grows beyond your control and it is time to call the fire department. After all, the sooner the first responders arrive, the lower your chances of losing everything in the fire.
While home insurance will be there to help you if the worst does happen, you might be able to save yourself from a massive fire loss just by having a fire extinguisher present.