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Preventing Kitchen Fires

Fire-Fighting Equipment

In the Nick of Time

Be sure to inspect and maintain your fire extinguisher according to manufacturer instructions. If you use the extinguisher, have it serviced or replace it right away. And keep an eye on the gauge. If the needle is out of the normal range, the internal pressure is either too high or too low and the device may not operate properly. Have it inspected by a qualified professional. Ask your local fire department for advice on finding one. See if the department offers free extinguisher checks. Many do.

All kitchens should have a portable fire extinguisher near or in them. Period. The best choice is a multipurpose dry-chemical extinguisher. You can find one in just about any hardware or home store. Look for an extinguisher labeled ABC. This stands for the three types of fires they can put out:

  • Class A: Ordinary combustibles (paper, cloth, and wood)

  • Class B: Flammable liquids (oil, grease, gasoline, and kerosene)

  • Class C: Electrical equipment (appliances, wiring, fuse boxes, and circuit breakers)

Read the instructions that come along with the extinguisher so you'll know how to operate it. Hang it in a conspicuous location, preferably in or near the kitchen and close to a door or similar exit. This way, you can grab it, use it, and get the heck out.

A fire extinguisher is always your best bet for fighting a fire. Lids, cookie sheets, and baking soda are all good to have on hand, too, but none of them will put out a fire as well, and with less risk to you and your belongings, as an extinguisher can.

Finally, if you need to use your fire extinguisher, use it! Don't empty it half-way. You can't save any of the contents. So fire away. Make sure the fire is out.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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