We all know we need our family to practice fire drills and be prepared for a fire, but did you know that having a fire extinguisher may be more important than having a gun by your bed? I mean, it could knock someone out and put out a fire, so there’s that! Today, I want to discuss the importance of having a fire extinguisher, teaching your children how to use it, and preparing yourself even more for a fire.
Fire Extinguishers: More Important than a Gun?
Obviously, we know that burglaries and break-ins can happen, and it’s definitely worth it to have some kind of home protection. However, many people sleep with a gun next to their bed and not a fire extinguisher
The truth is that according to the FBI burglary data from 2019, most burglaries occur during the day NOT at night. In fact, 45% of all burglaries occur between noon and 4:00 P.M. while no one is home (everyone is at school or work). You see, burglars just want your stuff, they don’t really want to kill you, so they just come when they know you won’t be home.
On the flip side, home fires typically always happen in the evening when you are asleep! In fact, 4,000 people die in house fires every year. So, we may be preparing for the wrong thing at night time.
Here are just a few fire facts that you should keep in mind:
- Almost 4,000 people die each year in house fires and about 2,000 are severely injured, if they do survive.
- It only takes 3.5 minutes for a home fire to reach 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 80% of deaths from fires happen at home.
- Adults 65 and older and young children are twice as likely to die in a fire.
- The leading cause of a fire is careless smoking.
- Having a smoke detector/alarm doubles your chances of surviving.
- 2/3 of the people were asleep when they died from a house fire.
What Causes a Fire?
There are a lot of ways a fire can start. Here are some of the most common:
- Electrical issues, such as faulty wiring in appliances, or having too many things plugged into overworked outlets.
- Heating devices such as heaters, wood stoves, or fireplaces.
- Cigarettes are the leading cause of house fires. They start when a cigarette is dropped next to flammable objects.
- Children playing with matches or lighters.
Fire Safety Tips
On top of reading my post Fire Emergency Preparedness, there are other things you can do to keep yourself, your children, or other family members from dying in a house fire:
- ALWAYS install smoke alarms! You want a smoke alarm outside every single sleeping area. We have one inside every bedroom doorway.
- Change your smoke alarm batteries at least every year. We change the batteries every New Year’s Day.
- Teach your children about fire safety and how to use a fire extinguisher.
- Have more than 1 fire extinguisher, and put them in multiple locations like your kitchen, garage, shed, etc.
- Get your electrical system checked periodically, especially if you have flickering lights.
- Inspect cords, wires, and outlets for wear, cracks, and other issues.
- Keep flammable objects, lighters, and matches away from children.
- Consider closing your bedroom doors when you sleep to keep fires from spreading from room to room.
- Test your smoke alarms every few months. Replace old units, typically about every 10 years.
- Practice evacuation plans at least quarterly, more often if you have small children.
Teach Your Kids How to Use Fire Extinguishers
Along with fire safety tips, we are going to really delve into fire extinguishers. Everyone in your home should know how to properly use one. If you’re a single parent and your kids sleep upstairs or downstairs, you should consider how difficult it would be to get to your child if they are trapped. Teaching your children how to use a fire extinguisher may save their lives!
We can plan a million exit routes, but the truth is, we have no idea what direction a fire will take when it happens. Having fire extinguishers and knowing how to use them may get you and your children out of the house alive!
Fire Extinguisher P-A-S-S Method
Teaching a child to use a fire extinguisher is super simple when you use the P-A-S-S method. Tell your kids that when they are using a fire extinguisher they need to remember the word PASS:
P is for pulling the pin out
A is for aim low
S is for squeezing the handle
S is for sweeping from side to side.
I would recommend practicing this method with a real fire extinguisher outside in the backyard or with a certified fire equipment dealer. Your local fire department might be willing to show you the proper method. We learned how to use them when we took a CERT class a few years ago.
Remember, not all fire extinguishers are reusable. You will want to check the label of the fire extinguisher to be sure.
How Many Fire Extinguishers Should You Have?
You should have a fire extinguisher in all areas of your home where a fire may start. This means in the kitchen, near the furnace, and in the garage. In addition to these places, I would also recommend you consider having one in each bedroom. Not only can you grab it to defend yourself, but if there’s a fire it could save your life.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there should be at least 1 fire extinguisher on every level of your home!
Check Your Fire Extinguisher Often
It isn’t just enough to have a fire extinguisher, you must check it monthly! One of my good friends had a fire in her home, and when she went to use her fire extinguisher it didn’t work! Luckily she caught the fire in time and was still able to get it out, but the liquid had drained out of her fire extinguisher and it was empty. Please, please check your fire extinguishers Monthly and have them professionally checked yearly!
You will want to check that your fire extinguishers are in working condition and in the right places each and every month. Here’s a checklist:
- Make sure the extinguisher is visible, unobstructed, and in the proper location.
- Check to verify that the locking pin is intact, as well as that the tamper seal is not broken.
- Examine your extinguisher for visible damage, corrosion, leakage, or a clogged nozzle.
- Pick your extinguisher up to make sure it is still full (my friend’s fire extinguisher was not).
- Look at the tag and check the last professional service date. You need to have a licensed fire extinguisher contractor inspect the device every year!
- You should also turn them upside down several times during your monthly inspection. This prevents the powder from packing down tightly at the bottom and making your extinguisher unusable in a fire! Do this every month!
Fire Safety Supplies
Be prepared before a fire starts! Here are my recommendations to have:
- Rechargeable Fire Extinguishers (4 packs you need more than 1)
- Fire Blanket
- EZ Fire Spray (small kitchen fires)
- Battery Operated Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms
- Two-story Fire Escape Ladder
Other Posts to Read
When it comes to fire safety, you can never be too prepared. If you want to learn more about fire safety preparedness, check out some of my other posts below:
- Fire: How Can I Prevent One in My Home – it also discusses the types of extinguishers for various fire types
- Fire Emergency Preparedness: Make a Plan
- How to Get Started with CERT in Your Community
- How to Store Important Documents
We never know when and what emergencies can happen, but fires can happen to any of us. Are they more important than a gun? Well, that’s up to you to decide, but if you have a gun, make sure you have a fire extinguisher too! If you have children, please make sure you have fire extinguishers and everyone knows how to use one! Please keep prepping, we must! May God Bless this world, Linda