Thank you for the questions. In my experience, for every person that asks a question, there are 10 others thinking the same thing but don't want to ask. If you want more information than I give in the answer or if the answer made you think of another question, don't hesitate to ask.
Question: "I don't have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen, but I know I should. What should I look for?"
Answer: Hello Mrs. Gamgee. To start with, fires are broken down into one of several types or classes, "A", "B" and "C" being the most common. "A" class fires are your normal combustible materials such as wood, cloth, rubber or some plastics. This is the most common type of fire. Class "B" fires are combustible liquids such as gasoline or grease. Class "C" fires are electrified electrical fires. Shut off the power and it becomes a class "A" fire.
Fire extinguishers are rated as to which type of fire they will extinguish. When looking for a fire extinguisher for your kitchen, you want to be sure that you get a fire extinguisher that fights all three classes of fire that you are likely to get in the kitchen (A, B and C).
Extinguishers are also rated by their size ( a 5lb extinguisher is a good size for a kitchen) and amount of fire they can extinguish. The fire extinguisher that I have in my kitchen is 5lbs and is rated 2A10BC. As far as which to buy, it's up to you. There are some rather cheap ones that are sold (I don't feel like slamming any particular company) but I try to avoid those. I try to avoid the ones with a plastic head on them.
Most extinguishers with a metal head on them are reusable (you have to get them serviced and filled) so it would pay for itself if you ever had to use it. I hope this is helpful. Here's a website that has more information. http://www.fireextinguisher.com/
Question: "Why, at 4 a.m. the other morning, did my smoke detector in the hallway go off? Just three beeps. Then nothing. I paced the house for two hours worried there was a smoldering wire somewhere. The battery appears fine as it blinks once every 45 seconds like it is supposed to. It went off when I hit the test button."
Answer: Hey Fiddle1, why is it these things always seem to happen in the middle of the night?! From the research that I have done it sounds like your smoke detector is nearing the end of its life. I didn't know that smoke detectors themselves would go bad. I had always assumed in the past as long as you had a good battery in it and the test function worked that the detector was good. It may also depend if yours is solely battery operated or if it's hard wired into your house. If you have the owners manual (or if you check online) you might be able to find more information specific to your model. Here's one site that I read that was helpful. http://www.homeimprovementsdepot.com/is-your-smoke-detector-beeping-and-chirping/
Question: "We've had our little fire extinguisher forever. How do we know if it will work should we ever need it? I was going to give it a try, but my husband says you can only use it once then it needs to be refilled. ????"
Answer: Anonymous, The best way to make sure your extinguisher is in proper working order is to get it serviced every year. If you have an extinguisher that is not serviceable or are just too busy/lazy to get it done (I fall into that category) there are still a couple of things that you can do. First, check the pressure gauge and make sure that it is still fully pressurized.
Second, if it is a dry chemical extinguisher, turn it upside down and smack it with a rubber mallet a few times. The extinguishing agent inside your dry chemical fire extinguishers is very fine and over time it settles. It will eventually become so compact that the extinguisher won't be able to discharge the powder. Turning it upside down and smacking it a few times loosens the powder. It's not the best fix but it's better than nothing.
If there are any more questions out there, please feel free to put them in the comments section on the Ask a Firefighter post and my firefighter will be happy to answer them!
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