The majority of fires are accidental in nature, with causes ranging from inattention while cooking and unattended candles to overloaded electrical circuits and faulty wiring. Having a fire extinguisher within reach can stop the flames from destroying a home. A fire extinguisher in good working order saves lives. Knowing when to replace your fire extinguisher, many times, is the difference between life and death.
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Check the date stamped on the fire extinguisher label. Typically, fire extinguishers have an expiration date. An out-of-date fire extinguisher may be useless and require replacement.
Examine the hose for signs of splits, cracks or holes. If any damage is present, replace the fire extinguisher or bring it to a manufacturer's recommended service facility for repair.
Read the pressure gauge, generally set near the fire extinguisher's nozzle, to ensure the needle points to a green area on the face of the gauge. If the needle is not in a green area, dispose of the old fire extinguisher and get a new one. If the needle remains in the green, but the extinguisher is past the date, still replace the fire extinguisher.
Replace the fire extinguisher after use. Usually home-use fire extinguishers are good for one discharge only, regardless of how small the discharge. Some home-use fire extinguishers are rechargeable, and refilling by a qualified professional is possible. Read the label to determine which type you own.
Inspect the safety pin for signs of wear or to see if the safety pin is loose or missing. Replace the fire extinguisher if the safety pin is missing, loose or damaged in any way.
Look for corrosion or dents on the fire extinguisher's tank. Damage indicates it is time to replace the fire extinguisher. Corrosion on the tank's exterior generally indicates signs of leakage, which means it's time for a replacement.
Inspect the nozzle for cracks or loosening. If the nozzle has damage, the fire extinguisher requires replacement.
Tips and warnings
- Bring your fire extinguisher in for service or replacement annually or as soon as you notice damage.
- Choose an A-B-C-rated fire extinguisher for the home as they work on all types of fires.
- Mount a minimum of one fire extinguisher per floor in easy-to-reach areas.
- Do not attempt to extinguish large fires. Call 911 immediately.
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