Do you need a fire extinguisher as part of a home and property fire protection plan? Yes, it’s certainly a good idea to always have a fire extinguisher on hand. Be aware, though, that experts caution that a fire extinguisher is the third most important item to have in your home fire safety plan.
The absolute first fire protection agents you need are excellent smoke and fire alarms—these are must-haves in any household. The second is a plan for evacuating your house in case of fire. Make a plan and make sure every family member knows it.
That said, if a fire starts, a fire extinguisher is an excellent thing to have. It can stop an initial blaze or impede it from becoming larger.
If a fire starts in your home, though, there are a number of cautions to follow. First, do not use the fire extinguisher as the first line of defense. Your first line of defense? GET EVERYONE OUT OF THE HOUSE. The second line of defense? Call the fire department. Ideally, these two will be done at the same time—but do not pause in your home evacuation to call the fire department. Seconds can make a difference.
There is no substitute for these two actions. Fires can spread unpredictably. Even if the fire seems small and containable, that can change in the blink of an eye. Remember: people are not replaceable. Furniture and household items are. Get everyone, including pets, out of the house first. Call the fire department.
At that point, ascertain if the fire is small and containable. If it is, use your fire extinguisher. Always keep your back to an open door, so that you can evacuate the area quickly.
Do not attempt to use a fire extinguisher if there is appreciable smoke—you run the risk of smoke inhalation. Do not use it if there is a risk of the fire spreading to curtains or wall hangings—that can make the fire spread exponentially. Do not use it if the fire is electrical in nature.
To sum up: it’s an excellent thing to have, but third in a good fire safety arsenal.