If you're reading this article, fire safety is obviously on your mind. And it should be.
Over a million house fires are reported to fire departments annually, causing billions of dollars in damage and thousands of deaths and injuries.
The easiest way to avoid a fire is to employ fire prevention tips in your home. But sometimes fires happen despite our best efforts, and in those moments it pays to have backup fire safety measures, like an extinguisher.
Fires can double in size every 30 seconds if there's available fuel, meaning having and knowing how to use an extinguisher could be the difference between a small incident and a total loss that the fire department is trying to fight.
But what's the best fire extinguisher for your home? Keep reading to learn about fire extinguishers and which is the best option for you.
The Kinds of Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are divided by the medium they contain to extinguish a fire. Different mediums are recommended for different types of fire. Let's break down the substances you'll find in a fire extinguisher.
Water extinguishers use straight H20 to fight flames and are useful for fires started from general combustibles like wood, building materials, and fabrics.
However, water-based extinguishers shouldn't be used where electrical equipment is a concern, as water is a conductor of electricity. They also don't work well on fires that contain oil, as oil and water don't mix - the water is likely to spread the oil and fire instead.
Foam extinguishers can be used on two classes of fire and are extremely good at preventing reignition by smothering flames and depriving them of oxygen.
Some foam extinguishers can be used with electric components, but it isn't recommended.
CO2 fire extinguishers are primarily used for fires dealing with flammable liquids. They work well for electrical fires, since CO2 doesn't conduct electricity and doesn't harm electronics.
Powder extinguishers, like the AFG Fireball, are incredibly versatile and can handle a broad range of fires. They are safe to use around electronics, don't leave a huge mess to clean, and are effective at extinguishing fires and preventing reigniting.
An extinguisher that uses a water mist system creates a microscopic wall of water that removes oxygen molecules from the air and blankets the fire. Although they use H2O, they are safe to use with electronics as the mist won't conduct electricity the way a stream does.
These are specialty extinguishers designed for fires that stem from cooking oils and fats. These extinguishers have a special nozzle and are generally used in specific applications like commercial kitchens.
Matching the Right Extinguisher
So which extinguisher is right for you? Let's break down the classes of fire, what fuels them, and which extinguishers match up.
Class A fires involve solid materials that are combustible, like paper, plastic, wood, and fabric. They can be put out by water, foam, wet chemical and powder extinguishers.
Fires in the Class B category involve flammable liquids, like oil, gas, and alcohol. You'll need to use a powder, water mist, or foam extinguisher.
Class C fires involve electricity. These fires are harder to put out because you must consider factors like conductivity and the electronics involved while trying to smother flames. Use a powder or water mist extinguisher.
This class is fairly rare and involves fires created from metals, like aluminum. Dry powder extinguishers are the best for these fires, as water and foam extinguishers can cause chemical reactions with the metal that make the fire worse.
Class K fires are those involving cooking oils and fats and require a wet chemical extinguisher.
The Best Fire Extinguisher for Your Home
So what's the best fire extinguisher for you?
Dry powder extinguishers are our top pick. They work on a variety of different classes of fires, are safe around electronics, and don't require massive cleanups.
Want to learn more? Check out the AFG Fireball automatic dry powder extinguisher and see why we think it's the best choice for your home and business for fire safety!