Fire Extinguishers | 3 or More Locations for House Fire Preparedness

You can never have too many fire extinguishers at home.

Do you have more than one fire extinguisher in your home?

Do you know where they are at this very moment?

You do have at least one, right?

(jump to recommendation)

Why You Need At Least 3 Fire Extinguishers At Home

Preparedness for a fire, anywhere in your home.

Fast reaction time is crucial. A developing house fire can catch and spread very quickly. And it’s possible that you could even become trapped!

You might only have moments at an attempt to put out a small but growing fire. So, keep fire extinguishers at various locations that are within a reasonably quick reach.

Fire Extinguisher in the Bedroom

Important! You may be ‘nuts’ if you don’t keep one in the bedroom. Why? Because if it happens in the middle of the night, grab the fire extinguisher and egress as soon as possible. You may need it on the way out!

Every Kitchen Should Have a Fire Extinguisher

A grease fire. It happens. I wrote a specific article about it awhile ago that you might want to review:

How To Put Out A Grease Fire

Fire Extinguisher in the Garage

Do you ever work on projects in the garage? I’ll bet at least once in your life one of those projects involved some unintended smoke, yes?

Other Locations

Basement. Shop. Shed. Kids room.

I recently read this statement: “Speaking as a 22 year veteran of our local Fire Department AND just having had a garage fire (electrical issue with vehicle – mfr defect) I can attest to the fact you can NEVER have too many fire extinguishers.”

Recommendation

The Best Fire Extinguisher To Keep At Home

ABC. Type ABC will put out just about any type of typical fire. Check the label.

I did a little research for you. The best value and rating is the following 4-pack from First Alert:

First Alert Home Fire Extinguisher ABC
(potential amzn commission at no extra cost to you)

The Takeaway

I’ll bet that most of you have a fire extinguisher somewhere at home. The point I’m making is to consider having more than one.

A house fire probably won’t happen to you. But, there’s no way to know. It could happen. So why not be somewhat prepared?

I’m not suggesting that you become a firefighter if your home catches on fire. Safety is #1. Get out. HOWEVER, you may have a good opportunity to put out a small but growing fire if you catch it in time. Plus, a fire extinguisher in hand on your way out, can only be a good thing.

Continue reading: Dual Sensor Smoke & Fire Detector | Why They Are The Best

Plan For, and Escape Smoke & Fire in Your Home

Smoke Detectors DO HAVE A SHELF LIFE

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45 Comments

  1. It is important to turn your extinguisher upside down and tap the bottom. This will shake down the grit that sinks to the bottom. I just set them upside down for a week.

    1. I keep a Mine Safety SCBA at work. The place is too big and too crowded. And despite all prevention efforts, at least five idiots per week return machines that are/were full of fuel. Many get returned on a scrap backhaul and end up tossed about, or upside down. Now you’ve got 5 or 8 gallons of gasoline spilled into a shrink-wrapped gaylord, on a pine pallet, stuffed with corrugated, coming off an enclosed trailer in the day sun, with an interior temp narrowing the flash point margin.

      1. Tmcgyver,
        Given the conditions in those trailers it is a wonder they did not self ignite when opened to the air. One spark and poof! That’s why gasoline equipment is banned in underground mines. Diesel only.

        1. Minerjim,

          Small world. One of my customers is ‘The Boring Company’ owned by the car/rocket/stoner guy. They’ve been digging around under LA for a few years, and you are exactly correct – diesel gensets only. Apparently CARB holds no jurisdiction…. underground. Ha.

  2. We live out in the country and the closest fire department is a volunteer department 20 minutes away; plus how ever long it takes the volunteers to get to their trucks. By the time they would get to my place, it would be too late. Therefore, we have about 11 fire extinguishers (FE) scattered around the property. Some are rechargeable some are not.

    The house has the most with two in the kitchen area, three in the great room where the wood stove is located, and two in the hallway to the bedrooms. They are ABC rated plus one of the kitchen FE is specifically for grease fires. We also have an FE in the garage, one out near the chicken coops, and two in the barn. Some of these are mounted on walls others are strategically placed. The next FEs I buy will be for the attic and for the tool shed.

    An old homesteader told me to put one FE near the wood stove and to keep two others across the room. He said if there is a problem, I might not be able to get to the FE near the wood stove due to heat or flames. The same applies in the kitchen. The one for grease is in the island and the other mounted on the wall by the entrance. We also borrow an FE from the barn when we are burning trash or slash piles. I want to buy some to keep on the tractor and UTV, but have to wait until $$ are available. This may sound like over kill, but I highly value my farm and don’t want to lose it because I was to dumb to keep FEs near by.

  3. Got two, one in kitchen and one in bedroom. Also have a few to spare put aside. Saw a feature on another site that pushed the idea of keeping one in your car. Any thoughts on that?

    1. Seminole Wind,
      People having WORKING fire extinguishers in the car have enabled persons to pull others from burning vehicles alive..instead of watching the fire kill ones screaming for assistance. This happened to two people i knew. Not pleasant for the observers and deadly for those trapped.
      I would say at least 2 in car… and rated for oil and gas. rubber and plastics burn very hot. and are made from oil and gas products….

  4. Thanks for the reminder. Will put more on my shopping list… and check the ones I have now.

  5. We’ve given fire extinguishers as gifts for people moving into their first home or as a new home gift. It’s not a very glamorous gift but it is something that is seldom thought about until it is really needed and then it’s too late. It’s also a great way to help young people start on the path to self-reliance and planning for the future.

    1. I do this too. Young people who are trying to start out need lots of things and although they know they should have one, other things usually override safety purchases. Same can be said for smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms, and first aid supplies (here’s some Christmas IDEAS). Other benefit of an extinguisher is it makes a pretty handy self defense weapon, especially for firearm averse folks….

  6. June 2019 was welding cab corners on 95. Chevy in my garage I finished first side went in house for 1 minute went back to garage for some thing, flames were up to headliner, mig wire had penetrated back wall set carpet on fire burned the seat all the trim in corner headliner seat belt and my back when I got in to get it out of attached garage, after my wife ran to get the one extinguisher from basement. My 50.00$ cab corner repair cost $1000.00 after the fire ruined interior of truck.Had I waited longer to go back in garage it would have been very bad.moral is we bought more fire extinguishers. Garage kitchen basement laundry room. Tip ,if you weld cab corners gut interior first

    1. I have 3 fire extinguishers in the garage and 3 in the house and one in each truck. I just put cab corners in a truck this weekend. I use panel bond and rarely ever weld on sheet metal any more. Panel bond is expensive at $45 per tube but much cheaper than a fire. And they make a good solid repair.

  7. Thanks for the reminder article Ken.

    I was going to make a suggestion that was already mentioned by Skeezix above about turning your extinguisher over and tamping the bottom to loosen up the sodium bicarbonate that is contained within. It is a very fine powder and has a tendency to cake-up when sitting in one place for a long time. I tap firmly with a piece of wood and try to shake it around.

    People will look at me weird when I pull out the fire extinguisher because from the location where I pull it to the location where I begin spraying, I will take the time to turn it upside down and tap the bottom against a wall 2-3 times. By loosening up the powder, it results in a better dispersion of dry chemical on the base of the fire.

    For grease fires within the kitchen, I try to keep the tight fitting lid nearby and my security blanket is a full, large box of baking soda.

    An observation about kitchen fires: Most fires are a result of an inattentive cook. ( Watching the football game rather than tending to the food on the stove.). This is why I charge for my services when I cook at tailgate parties or Super Bowl parties: I am there to fix the food. I am not there to watch the game. Second cause of fires in homes is related to this time of year: The Turkey Fryer and partially frozen birds.

    Let us all be careful within our kitchens at this time of year. Reduce clutter, clean up as you cook, sharpen your knives. ( as well as checking on the status of the fire extinguishers.)

    1. Cali – Around here, that’s a hazing job for every new fire fighter. Walk the premises and manually un-cake those ABC extinguishers, every-single-day. Or, so I’m told.

      You said: “Inattentive cook”…. yeah, that’s my wife. … (ducks)…. check out those fused units. About the size of a soup can, hangs up with an included strong magnet.

  8. I was just speaking about fires with someone in California. A foreman told her that the greatest cause of house fires was candles. Candles and cats are also a major cause. Cats look at the flame nand paw at it thereby knocking the candle over. Who’d a thunk!

    1. Wow, too weird Skeezix. I heard that most house fires were caused by clogged air vents on cloths dryers where the lint collects in the exhaust pipe and might/could catch fire.

      Pray for all of those poor folks in Commifornia

      1. Yeah, we’re looking for 80+ MPH sustained, (non-Seminole) winds overnight here in Southern Commiland. Have to let you know tomorrow if I know how to construct a proper roof. Wow, 1% relative humidity… blow my dog off with compressed air and she crackles with static sparks. Guess she gets a water bath tomorrow.

    2. Skeezix — I too have noted that in many house fires candles is mentioned as cause. I have always wondered “HOW”…That is, I would have thought folks would be somewhat careful about placement/etc…

      However, when you mention cats (and I suspect dogs may be similar, as our dog fascinated with anything on table/cupboard)….WOW…

      Talk about “lightbulb” moment. I know that every single one I can recall which mentioned candle as a cause, also mentioned a cat or dog (and I think usually a cat). WOW. I think your “source” is correct.

      I have never heard the two (cats (or dogs) and candles) connected before……

  9. I have one behind every door. In viewable areas I buy marine extinguishers because they’re white and less of an eyesore. By exterior doors I have 10lb extinguishers. In outbuildings I have several 10lb extinguishers. Throughout the property I have some strategically placed.

    In cars I use small marine extinguishers because they’re durable and easier to stow.

    The larger all metal ones most fire departments will recertify and/or recharge them for free. So you really only have to buy them once.

    I gave up on plastic extinguishers and after the recall any plastic valves.

    If you ever have used a dry chemical extinguisher you know how much of a mess they create. By the time I have committed to using one I have exhausted all other opportunities so I don’t want to waste time looking for one.

    I have several CO2 extinguishers. I do not recommend them unless you have had ample training.

  10. Fire Departments are not meant to save your home, but the surrounding homes. Once your stuff catches fire, forget it.

    I witnessed a fire on an Air Force base in Florida once. The firemen where there within minutes of the alarm. Every fire truck, including the flight line crash trucks were called in. Every truck from the local town of Fort Walton Beach was called in. So much water was poured on this structural fire, the entire city’s water pressure failed.

    The Flight Line trucks put their noses in the flames and sprayed directly into the fire…

    Firemen were on the roof cutting holes in it to vent the fire. The building exploded, lifting the roof completely off it walls…and tossing the firemen on it..into the sky. They landed in the parking lots around the building, suffering all sorts of injuries.

    The building complex burned to the GROUND…right to the foundations…regardless. We used every resource and the entire place burned completely and utterly.

    The building housed a cafe, a BX store, and a laundry. It was a complete loss. Not even a foot of wall above the foundation was left…even though firemen where there even before the SMOKE from the fire could be seen.

    This caused me to lose faith in our ability to put out fires.

    1. Still, I do have fire extinguishers in my kitchen in my home in Florida. I could not imagine not having one on hand.

    2. Which is why we should purchase insurance.

      So, not sure if you’re knocking the recommendation to have fire extinguishers in one’s home. If you are, then that’s your opinion. But I disagree. If a small but growing fire is caught in its early stage, you might save your house. With a fire extinguisher.

      If not, then hopefully you have homeowners insurance.

    3. ” Ision — Fire Departments are not meant to save your home, but the surrounding homes”

      a couple years back, I had a fire fighter pretty much tell me same thing.

  11. Good reminder on fire extinguishers Ken. We are in a rural area so we have F E s on each floor of the house as well as 2 in the shop. An FE is like a firearm . When you need one and you don’t have one , you”really need” one.

  12. The best defence against a fire in your home is an early warning. Most Class “A” fires (wood etc) can be put out with a cup or water (very little) If you get to the fire when it is small. Structure fires need three basic elements; fuel, heat, and oxygen. By getting to a small fire, you can reduce the “heat” part of this triangle thereby killing it with the cooling water.

    Fire extinguishers act on one of these fire elements, some coat the fuel (foam), some cool, and some produce CO2 displacing the oxygen. This is a simplification of dealing with this type of fire but I think it covers the basics.

  13. If I might make a small suggestion.
    Head on over to the locak Fire Department and ask to join in on their next training session on Fire Extinguishers.
    99.99% of the time they are happy to have you….
    Having a Fire Extinguishers and not knowing how to use it is sort of like having a $35 steak and not knowing how to grill it….
    Think about it.

  14. In addition to extinguishers, consider First Alert Tundra Fire Extinguishing Aerosol Spray for kitchen protection. I think Ken had a post on it a year or so ago. Easier to use than an extinguisher for a small kitchen fire. Have one for myself and gave one to my 80+ parents.

  15. In rural areas, the fire department will mostly try to save surrounding structures. It is all in the timing: a fire doubles about every minute, so think about the response time to your home. As a firefighter in a rural area I have used a garden hose on a structure fire twice–one time was successful, one was not (this was in snow country where the roads were blocked by many feet of snow).

    Prevention is key. Prevent a chimney fire by cleaning your chimney At Least once a year, keep your kitchen venting system clean of grease, clean your dryer vent, and limit use of candles. Yes, the dryer lint that is great as a fire-starter in the woods is very good at starting house fires.

    When you cannot prevent a fire, fire extinguishers can save your home and lives. Keep them near but not close to the appliance you may be using it on. For instance, in the kitchen, do not keep it directly next to the stove. If your stove is on fire chances are the flames will prevent you from reaching the extinguisher if it is right next to the stove. I never leave the house with an appliance running…no dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, etc. It can be a pain, yes, but at least I am pretty confident a fire will not start from those malfunctioning while I am gone.

    I like NRP’s idea of contacting the fire department for some basic training on the fire extinguisher! That is lots of fun, but if they cannot give you training, remember to point the stream of the extinguisher at the base of the fire. Also, in my area, the fire department does not have the capacity to recharge the extinguishers, but they can recommend businesses that do so. Remember to check your extinguishers every time you check smoke detector batteries. Some extinguishers expire and you need to check that the site needle is not in a recharge or expired mode. I also agree that shaking and tapping the bottom occasionally (or when you check them) is a good thing. I had a long-standing argument with one of my co firefighters who said that doing that just gets the fine powder stuck in the hose and clogs it. But the business we used to recharge our fire department extinguishers was not concerned about that.

    1. Pegasus – CERT training will give you live-fire extinguisher training too. Our FD came out and set up a shallow pool with high volume, aerated propane bubbling up. My “buddy” and I got good at it, where we’d charge the thing from upwind and blow the center out of it in one shot; kaput. Fun times; I highly recommend the course to anyone with an interest.

  16. Yep, it was me. Sometimes I do that ;)

    Another somewhat related article to this side conversation:

    CANDLES: Lowest Cost Per Hour

    The price comparison was back in 2016. Maybe I should do another. I found it interesting to find which candles cost the least to ‘operate’. I have lots and lots of candles in storage for ‘just in case’. They do present a significant fire hazard with children or pets in the house. So be cautious!

  17. – Just walked through the house, counting fire extinguishers. We currently have seven ABC type in the house, including the kitchen, bedroom and near the fireplace (on the opposite side of the) living room. I do have three water-type fire extinguishers, all currently in the garage.

    I also have three CO2 fire extinguishers, two need refilling, (Eliminated Bees inside brick wall).

    I do have one in each of four vehicles including the old Chevy (beater) work truck. If you ever need one for a vehicle fire, you will be a believer. I have fought and put out a fire in one of my vehicles (had to grab an extinguisher from the kitchen) and before that had to put out an engine fire on my (now DW) girlfriend’s ’70 Malibu SS (borrowed from a nearby restaurant)

    Yes, we are believers in this particular bit of equipment. Also, a former employer insisted every employee actually use a portable extinguisher and put out a fire behind the building every two years.

    – Papa S.

  18. We have several in the house on each floor.
    In the barn and both camper trailers.
    To carry one in a vehicle makes sense. Why haven’t I thought of that?
    I carry one on dad’s ole Ford 800 tractor. Ahh huhhh
    I did the 80 yrd dash to and from with an extinguisher in hand one winter with snow boots and coveralls. Not fun.
    Mowing the pasture, once again it caught fire. Luckily there was an ant hill nearby and I threw their hill on the gas tank…. meanwhile my brother peels out of the driveway with an extinguisher.

    I shoulda just let the damn thing go the first time.
    Such fine equipment we have.
    Was very lucky on both episodes.

  19. Aww geez, I probably have 20+ scattered around, not counting the 6 fused ones, hanging over the stove burners and some of my home made power supplies, etc. I have a water can plus a 20 pound ABC, each in fixed mounts in my truck bed. The little 5 pounders with the plastic wall mounts fail at the mount after a few years. I’ve found that a healthy strip of 1″ velcro puts them up on any vertical rail, quite stoutly. I even have an old Halon unit from the 80’s, long ago declared illegal, for… algore’s ozone hole, or whatever.

  20. My coworkers furnace caught on fire this weekend. No one was hurt but it is a reminder that these things can happen to anyone at any time.

  21. Got a question for the group. besides fire extinguishers, has anyone thought of having a fiberglass welding blanket handy in the kitchen to smother a stove top fire??? Seems that smothering a grease fire is a safer way than blasting it with a fire extinguisher and blowing burning grease all over. Cheap enough at harbor freight, like $45. Just thought of this, will have to buy one and have it handy.

  22. Ken,
    thanks. just checked HF has a 4′ x 6′ welding blanket for $26. of course it does not come in a nice little pouch to hang in the kitchen, so may opt for the one you suggest.

  23. I remodeled a kitchen after a fire.
    The fire started in the kitchen “junk drawer”.
    There was a couple of loose 9 volt square style batteries in the drawer and apparently the 2 terminals got shoved against something metal in the drawer and caught a cotton dish rag on fire.( according to the fire department. )
    I have FE’s everywhere.
    But make sure they are still in working condition.
    A friend relayed that he stopped to help someone with a car engine fire.
    He pulled out his extinguisher, pulled the pin and when he hit the trigger the handle broke.it had gotten brittle in the heat of his trunk. He felt really bad about it.
    To Ken …
    Another timely discussion. With cold weather arriving lots of fires happen with people trying to keep the house warm.
    At least you have a chance to keep your loss low or escape if you have a working extinguisher.

  24. Having the right type of extinguisher for the fire is important. Dry chemical extinguishers work great on grease fires (class B), but a plain old garden hose will work better on burning grass or wood (class A). Oh; and those dry chemical extinguishers; ‘better be ready to clean up the mess they make! I’d actually go the extra mile and buy CO2 extinguishers for the kitchen and garage. Halon extinguishers haven’t been sold for a long time because they supposedly blow holes in the ozone. I still occasionally find them at yard sales, from small “glove box” units to the larger “wall-hangers.” These things put out grease and wet fuel fires instantly and leave no residue. They’ll knock down class A fires, but you need to go in behind them with water to get at the embedded embers. I have both Halon and water extinguishers for the barn. I have Halon in the garage as well, with a dry chem for a backup. The garage is adjacent to the kitchen, so these protect that space as well.

    DON’T keep your extinguishers too close to the potential sources of fire, as the flames may keep you from getting at them! I keep extinguishers on opposite ends of the garage and barn. One of the garage extinguishers is just outside the door that connects the garage to the kitchen.

    Also; electrical fires; kill the power to the affected area, and half the time the fire will go out on its own. At very least you won’t be spraying water on a live circuit! ‘Don’t know which breaker to throw? Then throw the panel main.

  25. Just like with every other prep, practice! Remember the acronym P.A.S.S.

    Pull the pin.
    Aim the nozzle.
    Squeeze the trigger.
    Sweep from side to side.

    Fire extinguishers are LOUD and will startle someone who isn’t expecting it. Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames. This is a very common mistake and will not put out the fire. It is best to start about 8 feet away if possible and move closer as you are sweeping from side to side. If you are too close to the fire, the pressure from the extinguisher might blow out the flame, only to restart as soon as you stop squeezing the handle. This is because you haven’t smothered the fire’s source to put it out. Target the source fuel.

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