Fire Extinguishers: More Important than a Gun?

Fire Extinguishers: More Important than a Gun?

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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?

Fire Extinguishers: More Important than a Gun?

Fire Statistics

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. 

Fire Facts

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.
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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.

Large Fire Extinguisher

Smaller Fire Extinguisher and First Alert HOME1 Rechargeable

Carbon Monoxide Plugin

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. 

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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! 

Monthly Checks

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:

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:

Final Word

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

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  1. I only sleep with a gun beside my bed because it hurts when I roll over if I’m wearing it.
    A fire extinguisher is definitely non negotiable as well though. We’ve got one in the house, camper and my truck.
    Smoke/CO2 detectors are also a must in the camper and house. For those thinking they don’t need CO2 detector cause they don’t have gas I’ll ask you what your using as an alternative heat source?
    It’s just too easy to have a 2 in 1 unit. I just bought one for $40 that’s good for 10 years with no battery changes.

    1. Hi Matt, I love your comment as always. I need to go add the CO2 deal, I missed doing that, thanks for the reminder. Life is good if we have the tools we need, a gun, a fire extinguisher, and a CO2 unit! Linda

  2. Great post, Linda! We do have fire extinguishers. No CO2, but do have a smoke alarm. No battery, but wired in. I know we need a battery operated as well.

  3. In the photo, you show two different extinguishers. What is the small one? I have a large one that I have in my kitchen/living area but the small ones would be great for the bedrooms because of the wall heaters which would likely be the source of the fire.

    For those who have an outside bbq grille, you should also have an extinguisher near your grille.

          1. Hi Linda. The link for the rechargeable extinguishers worked fine, it was the link for the small extinguisher. The link you posted is: When I click on it I get a message stating “Sorry. That page does not exist.” or something like that.

            Anyway, keep up the good work!

  4. The best thing you can do with your smoke alarms it to have them hardwired into your home’s power lines, and just use batteries as a backup.

    We have fire extinguishers in our kitchen, office (which is at the extreme other end of the house) and in our garage. In addition to CO2 monitors, Carbon Monoxide (CO) monitors are a must as that gas it odorless, tasteless and deadly.

    1. Hi Ray, we had ours hardwired with a battery back up as well. Thank goodness people can buy CO2 monitors. Life is good if we have to tools to wake us up in case of an emergency. Stay safe, LInda

  5. Thing about a handgun is what use is it when you run out of ammo?

    Nice thing about a dry powder fire extinguisher is it’s a great ‘person’ stopper.
    Either with a discharge straight in the face, or a wack behind the ear.
    Empty or not it makes an impression 🙂
    Anyway, one item, two uses. Prepper logic.

    We were also liveaboard’s (canal boat) for three years.
    There is was mandatory to have extinguishers, CO, smoke, and bottled gas leak detectors.
    Now living in a home, we just carried on with that habit.

    1. Hi Paul, great comment, yes, once the ammo is gone, you’re done. I doubt anyone will barter their ammo because those same people may come back and use it on you. I like the prepper logic. Linda

  6. I bought plug in CO2 units after the Texas snow apocalypse when we bought a Mr Heater and Mr Buddy to use indoors. I also found 2 pack/EZ Fire spray at Lowe’s that look like hair spray cans. Put one in every bedroom in the bedside tables and bathroom/kitchen etc. I’ve been more conscious of that when no one had water/electricity for a week. I pondered the fact no one could get to us if a fire started. We have no snow plows, salt trucks. Great article Linda. Words of wisdom.

    1. Hi Beverly, it only takes one major storm like Texas had to open the eyes of everyone to be prepared for the unexpected. Mother Nature can roar at any time when we least expect it. Who would have ever guessed that Texas would have that much snow, crazy times! I ordered a heater as well after the Texas storm. I live in the desert and always thought to myself I will use lots of blankets to stay warm if we had a power outage. Then the storm hit Texas…I had 3 propane tanks I had put off filling. After the Texas storm and seeing the people with propane tanks trying to get them filled…WOW! I told my husband we NEED to get these 3 empty ones filled now. We have 7 tanks but we kept putting off getting them filled. We all learn from disasters no matter what size. I’m glad you picked up the CO2 units and the heaters. Stay safe, Linda

  7. I like that you mentioned how you should have a fire extinguisher in all areas of your home where a fire may start. We are currently remodeling our house and we have decided to also improve its fire safety, which includes having some fire extinguishers. I also heard fire extinguisher servicing is being offered now to, so we need to make sure to ask for that too.

  8. Linda,

    Fire extinguishers are more important than guns, but only because a house fire is a more likely event than a home invasion. Both guns and extinguishers are vital to being prepared for emergencies. One of my recent newsletters dealt with how important it was to keep your fire extinguishers up to date.

    I think Matt might have been referring to a CO detector. Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer, tasteless and odorless. CO2 is pretty much what we exhale when we breathe. It’s only harmful if you’re in an enclosed space where you can’t get fresh air.

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