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Just wondering if anyone has any advice/tips on a good small fire extinguisher to have at home? I'm not looking for something that's going to put out a blaze if half my house is on fire. Rather something that will safely put out something small and prevent half my house from going on fire.

The only thing (i think) i know about them is i can get a CO2 extinguisher or a chemical one. Not sure which one is good for what.

Suggestions?

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Your local home improvement store will surely have a "fire safety" section. This will be the best place to buy, because the items are bulky and stored under pressure. This makes them expensive to ship.

If you currently have no fire extinguishers, I would suggest at least 1 per floor. Keep one under the sink in the kitchen, and store the others mounted to the walls in your closets.

You are looking for an "ABC" or "tri-class" dry chemical extinguisher. These will generally come in a wide variety of sizes. Get a moderately sized one for your kitchen, and the same size or smaller for the other areas of your house.


In case you are curious, the "ABC" rating refers to the class of fires which the extinguisher will be effective on:

  • A denotes a fire in combustible materials (wood, paper, etc.)
  • B denotes a fire in combustible liquids (oil, gasoline, etc.)
  • C denotes an electrically energized fire. The rating ensures that the chemical in the extinguisher is non-conductive.
  • D denotes a fire in flammable metals. You are not likely to see this type of fire in a residential setting.

There will also a numerical rating for the A and B classes, which denote the relative extinguisher strength. The A number multiplied by 1.25 will give you the number of gallons of water that the extinguisher is equivalent to. The B number will give you the approximate number of square feet of B class fire that a person with no training can expect to extinguish.

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Good introduction to fire extinguishers - I'll add that I suggest a fire extinguisher that can be refilled. I bought cheap ones with plastic heads and the pressure in them was down to useless in a year and a half. I spent a bit more on the new ones (they got metal heads) and they can be refilled. –  Danny T. Nov 17 '10 at 22:31
    
I think i'll probably go with this [one][1] from home depot. i think one of those near the kitchen will suffice since this is a small house, single story. Thanks for the detailed explanation. Btw, where would i go to get it refilled? and how does refilling it cost?[1]: homedepot.com/… –  merk Nov 17 '10 at 23:33
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A tip I got from the campus fire department during a fire extinguisher training class is to shake chemical extinguishers every so often (twice a year when you change your clocks and check your smoke detectors). The powder tends to clump after a while, and may not work as well. –  KeithB Nov 18 '10 at 16:12
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This one is fairly light, I used it in a pinch one day when the stove liner's were a little too dirty, and caught fire one morning. It wouldn't have been so bad if there wasn't some oil that was caught under the liner so the fire never went out, as small stove fire's often do. It could have been a lot worse. One pull (less than 1/2 second) put the whole fire out right away.

The product specs say it weighs 3.9 pounds, and in practice it is pretty light. I'll probably get one or two more to keep in the various other areas of the house. The downside of it being so light is that it doesn't go very far in terms of putting out fires. That one pull put the extinguisher into the empty range, even though the extinguisher is still pretty heavy. A Single use extinguisher kinda sucks, maybe I'll look into a refill.

+1 for KeithB's comment about shaking the extinguisher.

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