Extinguishers in the home

Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? If not, why not?

This is a story courtesy of the Safelincs website:

“Last night I was sitting working at the kitchen table, when I heard a ‘fizz’ sound followed by a ‘pop’ - almost like the sound of a small balloon popping. I continued working, thinking that it must have been one of my daughter's toys. But my mind was still trying to decipher the sound that I'd heard... I thought it was particularly strange because I'd heard the ‘fizz’ before the ‘pop’ - whereas if a balloon had burst or something similar, it would usually be the other way around!”

“Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I had to go and see what had made this strange sound. Well, thank goodness I went to look, because what I found was yellow flames coming from underneath our electric night storage heater. Fortunately my brain switched into ‘crisis mode’ and I quickly moved anything flammable away from the storage heater, and switched off the electricity supply to that heater.”

“I then dashed to the cupboard in our kitchen where we store our 1kg powder fire extinguisher and fire blanket. While racing back to the fire, I pulled the pin out of the extinguisher, and then I took aim and blasted powder at the fire. Within three blasts from the extinguisher the fire had completely gone out! My wife and daughter came rushing through to see what all the commotion was about, and I explained what had happened.”

“It was shocking how quickly the fire spread, and I was so grateful that I knew exactly where the extinguisher was and how to use it without thinking!”

“This experience really caused us to re-think our fire protection -- especially with a young child in the house. Within hours I'd re-located all our extinguishers to make sure they were easily accessible from key locations around the home. And I made sure that my wife also knew exactly how to use the extinguishers so that she could also react quickly in the event of a fire.”

“It really was a terrifying ordeal, but as a result we have become much more diligent about extinguisher locations and making sure that we are all fully familiar with how to use each type of extinguisher -- and the types of fire on which they can be used.”

This is just one of many similar stories about real people in real situations and how being able to tackle the fire quickly and safely saved them from what could have become a major catastrophe.

What do you need?

The room with the greatest risk of fire is usually the kitchen, simply because it tends to have several sources of ignition such as the cooker, hob and electrical appliances. The kitchen is also well stocked with materials that burn relatively easily; fats, oils, tea-towels and wooden cupboards. But, it is not the only room where there are risks. Any room containing electrical goods can be at risk (as the above story illustrates). Behind the television in many living rooms is often a rat’s nest of wiring and multiple sockets.

A versatile fire extinguisher for the home is the Dry Powder fire extinguisher. These can be used on electrical fires, wood, paper, textiles, etc as well as flammable liquid and gaseous fires. You don’t need a hulking great fire extinguisher spoiling the decor in your home either, as they are available in smaller sizes, such as 1kg or 2kg, for under £15.

In addition to a fire extinguisher we would recommend a fire blanket for the kitchen as this can sometimes be easier to use and more effective on a pan fire. These can be found for around £10.

How many do you need? That will depend on the size and layout of your home of course, but even if you start with just the one fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen, it is better than nothing at all. A quick search on Google shows that several companies sell kits for under £30 which include an extinguisher, fire blanket and smoke detector.

Once you have the equipment make sure that everyone, of a suitable age, is aware of where they are located and how to use them in an emergency. It may not be possible to actually ‘set-off’ the extinguisher, as it would then need servicing, but get everyone to handle it so they can feel the weight, see where the controls are located and be shown how they should direct it at a fire.


Teach the acronym PASS:

Of course you should only tackle a fire if it is safe to do so. If in doubt, it is better to get yourself and everyone else out of the home, and then call 999.


If you have questions about fire risk assessment, or for help on any aspect of fire safety, call us on 01524 784356 today.

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.


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