At home, it's important to be prepared for any kind of security issue. This includes potential fires. A fire extinguisher on hand is a valuable tool and should be kept in the kitchen and in other areas of the house where fires are more likely (such as in the garage if you work in the garage). However, there are different fire extinguishers you need to know of. These different extinguishers are used in different circumstances and four different kinds of fires. The last thing you want is for a fire to break out and to have a fire extinguisher that not only fails to put it out but actually makes the fire worse. All of this is possible if you're not careful, which is why you need to consider investing in an electrical fire extinguisher.

What Is an Electrical Fire Extinguisher?

ELECTRICAL FIRE EXTINGUISHER

When looking at fire extinguishers, there are different classes of extinguishers which are designed to work with varying forms of fire. Different kinds of fires are likely within your home, so you need to have a fire extinguisher for the different potential problems. This includes an electrical fire extinguisher.

Fire extinguishers are broken up into four different kinds of extinguishers, known as classes.

Class A

A Class A fire extinguisher is used on combustible items that leave behind ash (it is known as Class A because of the "A" in "Ash"). This includes paper, most plastics, cloth, wood, and general trash. When it comes to kindling, you are more likely to think of these kinds of materials that burn, rather than most other items that lead to fires.

Class B

A Class B fire extinguisher is used on non-metal that is found in a liquid form. This includes gasoline, grease, acetone, and oil fires. If you have ever had a grease fire in the kitchen and tried to put it out with water, you will know that water spreads the fire instead of putting it out. This is one reason why you're told to keep baking soda in the kitchen. The baking soda will help prevent the spread of fire. A Class B fire extinguisher will use a powder-like substance to put the fire out. This is known as a Class B fire because the materials found in the fire will "Boil" or "Bubble."

Class C

A Class C fire extinguisher is the electrical fire extinguisher. This is for situations where a fire is caused by something that is plugged in. For example, you might have too many electrical devices plugged into the same current. Then, when the current overloads, sparks form and lead to a fire. Unless the outlet is shut off or disconnected, it will continue to pump electricity into the fire, meaning there is always a continual charge feeding into the fire. This also makes it especially dangerous, because electricity doesn't need to travel across a surface. An electrical fire can jump, like lightning, from one surface to the next. As electricity is always trying to get to the lowest point, it may jump from one surface and potentially run through your body to your feet. If your heart is in the way and it travels through your heart, this is potentially deadly. In most instances you will not have enough electricity running through the outlet to do deadly damage, but the best way to avoid this kind of incident and fire is with the aid of a Class C fire extinguisher. It is known as a Class C fire because of the "C" in "Current."

Class C

A Class D fire extinguisher works on metals, including aluminum, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Typically, fires that stem from these kinds of materials only happen in labs. Due to this, you rarely need to have a Class D fire extinguisher on hand. These kinds of fires will produce a foam or specialized formula to fight this kind of fire. If you work in a lab, check out for a Class D extinguisher. If you don't work in one, you will not need a Class D inside your home.

How Do They Work?

Some fire extinguishers can work in different situations. Due to this, you might find an electrical fire extinguisher can work in other settings. However, you need to look at the labeling on the extinguisher to know exactly what it does and whether it will work for your particular needs. It should state the class type on the label (remember that an electrical fire extinguisher is a Class C). However, there are also images to look out for. A Class C electrical fire extinguisher will have an image of an electrical outlet with a power plug and fire coming from it (a Class B flammable liquids will have a picture of a gas can and flames, while a Class A will have an actual wood fire and trash can in flames).

How the Extinguisher Works

The differences in how different extinguishes work is why knowing what kind of fire extinguisher you have is of critical importance. This is because one fire extinguisher might make certain fires worse. For example, there is an air-pressurized water extinguisher. This is used for a Class A fire. The pressurized water will only spread a Class B and Class C fire.

fire extinguisher demo

There is also a Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher. This is a common form you'll find in the kitchen. It has a wide extinguisher barrel which you will lift (as opposed to the water option, which has a slender tube used to spray the water). The carbon dioxide extinguisher has no pressure gauge and a wide horn. These work for both Class B and Class C fires (but not Class A). The carbon dioxide it sprays is not flammable and helps cool the fire. It also helps choke out oxygen, so the fire is put out.

A Dry Chemical Extinguisher is another that works as an electrical fire extinguisher. It works on both Class B and Class C fires. It will have a gauge on the top, although it may or may not have a hose attached to it. It will show that it is a DC, or "Dry Chemical" extinguisher on the label. Sometimes it will say it is also "BC" or "ABC." If it is ABC, you can use it on every class except D, while BC only works on B and C Class fires. These will use pressurized nitrogen and a powder to put out the fire.

Why It Is Important to Have One on Hand in Case of an Emergency

It is important to have a fire extinguisher on hand inside your home. There will be times where a fire breaks out and you have just a moment to try to put it out. If you do not act it might be too late. With an electrical fire, which might happen during the holidays (due to all the additional electrical devices running through a power outlet), you need to have an electrical fire extinguisher. Your best bet is to pick up a pressurized dry chemical extinguisher that is designed for all three main classes. You will already have water present (or at least close by), so you'll be able to have something to put out a Class A fire. And with an oil fire, if you have baking soda on hand, you can put it out before it spreads. However, with an electrical fire you will not have anything that can readily put this fire out. This is why, above all other extinguishers, you need to invest in an electrical fire extinguisher.

line up of fire extinguishers

Electrical fires are also dangerous as, until the electrical source is turned off or the fire is extinguished, electricity will continue to feed into the fire. As water and other more traditional ways of putting fires out will not work with an electrical fire, you'll want to invest in this kind of extinguisher. It might be the difference between putting out a fire and having your entire property burn down.

Always make sure you have the electrical fire extinguisher serviced and replaced when necessary. It will have a service date attached on the extinguisher that shows when it is no longer viable and will need to be replaced. If the extinguisher expires, it may not be any good to you, especially if is a pressurized extinguisher (over time pressure might leak out, so when you need to use it the device will no longer work).

final thoughts

It is important for you to do what you can to protect your home, your property and your family. There are many kinds of fires, and each class of fire requires a different way of putting the fire out. Class C fires are electrical fires. These fires are not put out in the same way as other types of fires and, in fact, if you try to put it out with another extinguisher (especially one that uses water) you might end up spreading the fire. So invest in a new Class C fire extinguisher and keep one on hand (ideally in your kitchen and in the garage).