Having a fire extinguisher at home can save your belongings and your home but it can also prevent injuries or even save the life of someone in your home. It can also save you a lot of money on repair costs. The cost of a fire extinguisher is small compared to the cost of the damages you could prevent in your home.
Make the right choice
For your home, it is recommended that you choose a five-pound, portable, "dry chemical" fire extinguisher that has the Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada "ULC" logo and is classified as ABC.
The ABC classification refers to the type of fire. Class A fires originate from a solid fuel such as wood, paper or curtains. Class B are fuelled by flammable liquids or gases. Class C is generated by an electrical charge, for example in a plugged-in toaster.
The multi-purpose ABC fire extinguisher is appropriate for all of these types of fires.
When used, a fire extinguisher rapidly releases a very fine powder. It is very effective, but careful cleaning of the area will be required afterwards. If possible, keep a mask nearby to avoid inhaling the powder when you activate the extinguisher and prevent damage to your health.
Where to install it
Your fire extinguisher should be installed in plain view, near an exit. Once you use the extinguisher, visibility becomes almost non-existent, so you’ll need to know where the exit is.
It should also never be left on the floor or within the reach of children. It should be installed and stored on a special mount.
Avoid keeping it too close to a potential source of fire such as stoves or heating elements.
If your home has several floors, you should install one on each floor.
Of course, the kitchen is still by far the area most affected by residential fires. In Quebec, 28% of fires, or approximately 1,250 fires per year, start in the cooking area. Of these fires, over 40% started due to distraction and in 84% of cases cooking elements (oven, stovetop, other cooking equipment) were the source of the fire.1
Finally, fire extinguishers installed outside should be protected against the weather and be adequately installed to ensure they can be used in case of emergency.
How to use a fire extinguisher
Obviously, it’s best to read the instructions for using your extinguisher when you buy it and to keep the basic steps in mind in case of a fire.
However, to keep things simple, we recommend learning these fifteen points on how to use and maintain your device.
Your first priority: saving lives
People often forget that a fire extinguisher can only be used when a fire has just started. If the fire has reached the curtains or other parts of the room, don’t try to be a hero – call 911 right away.
Also, even if you are able to extinguish the flames, you should call the fire department. The fire may still be smouldering in your home somewhere that can’t be seen, such as equipment like a range hood. Don’t forget, it doesn’t cost you anything to call the fire fighters.
Home fire prevention is a common concern for all households, but it is easy in the hustle and bustle of everyday life to forget the basics. Read our article 6 tips to prevent house fire risks to brush up on your fire safety skills!