Is your home fire extinguisher buried in the back of a kitchen cupboard, or covered by a layer of dust on your workbench?
If you’re like many homeowners, you don’t think about this important home safety tool very often. But to be functional when needed, your extinguisher needs some basic maintenance. Starting this month establish a habit of regular safety inspections using these tips:
What to Check Monthly
Every month perform a visual inspection of your portable fire extinguisher. Always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions for your specific extinguisher. In addition:
- Examine the pin and seal. Your extinguisher has a pull pin on the handle, held in place by a tamper seal. If either of these components is damaged, broken or missing, it could indicate someone has used the unit, or it may not be ready to use in an emergency. Have it inspected or replaced.
- Inspect the hose and nozzle. Check to see that both are clear of debris and appear in good condition.
- Look for damage. If the container is rusty, covered in oil or grime, shows dents or other signs of damage, or simply is past its prime, it may not be fully functional. Have it inspected, or replace it.
- Monitor the pressure. Look at the needle on the gauge to determine whether the extinguisher is fully charged. On most units the needle in the “green zone” on the gauge indicates an appropriate pressure level.
- Give it a shake. Some manufacturers recommend shaking dry chemical extinguishers monthly to keep the powder from clumping or settling.
What to Do Annually
Once each year have your extinguishers inspected and maintained by a licensed technician following standards established by the National Fire Protection Association. During these thorough checks your extinguisher is tested, and any necessary repairs made. A current inspection tag affixed to the unit after the annual inspection reminds you that the service is current. Always check your owner’s manual for the inspection requirements specified for your extinguisher.
What to Do Anytime
- Keep your extinguisher accessible. If you can’t get to it quickly, you risk a fire spreading rapidly.
- Read the instructions. Make sure the operating instructions on your canister are visible and legible. In an emergency you may need a quick refresher of how to operate the unit.
- Replace or recharge. After you’ve used the extinguisher, replace it or have it inspected and recharged immediately so it’s ready in the event of another fire.
Learn more fire safety tips during Fire Prevention Week noted each October.
Read about how to deal with a fire in the kitchen.