Ordinarily, fire extinguishers wouldn't feature in your weekly shopping list. You can be excused for not knowing so much about this safety device, but the decision to invest in one is wise.
A lot can be said about fire extinguishers and this article may not be enough to exhaust the topic in its entirety. That said, here are three things you should know before you pay for your purchase.
True to their name, these extinguishers use water as the extinguishing agent. You'll probably notice that water-based extinguishers are comparatively cheaper when placed against other types of extinguishers. They're also advantageous because water is a readily available extinguishing agent as compared to the alternatives (e.g. carbon dioxide gas).
Before you settle for one these extinguishers, remember that it won't be of help in the face of an electric fire. The water-based extinguisher might not be such a good investment considering that a large number of residential fires result from electric faults.
Similarly, the said extinguisher won't be of help in the event of cooking-oil related fire. The oil will simply float on the water and the fire will continue to rage.
Carbon Dioxide-Based Extinguishers
A large portion of the extinguishers you'll encounter use carbon dioxide gas as the extinguishing agent. When carbon dioxide is sprayed over a flame, it displaces oxygen around the fire. This deprives the flame of the much-needed oxygen supply and the fire ends up extinguished.
Carbon does not conduct electricity and this makes carbon dioxide extinguishers suitable for putting out fires that result from electric faults.
On the down side, you might find it difficult to breathe whenever you use such an extinguisher in a confined space because of low oxygen levels. This is despite the fact that carbon dioxide is not toxic.
Carbon dioxide extinguishers are also known to inflict cold burns if they're mishandled. This often happens when the skin is continuously exposed to the gas jet emanating from the extinguisher's horn.
If you choose to invest in a CO2 extinguisher, warn your family members against holding the extinguisher by the horn, should they ever have to use it.
Once you've bought an extinguisher (regardless of the type), remember that extinguishers need to be inspected regularly to ascertain that they remain safe to use. Get a fire extinguisher inspection guide from your local fire department on your way back home. Only then will you be in a position to inspect the extinguisher on your own.