If you’re wondering if it is important to have a fire extinguisher at home, the answer is – yes.
A fire accident can happen at the time we least expect it. And given the affordable cost of fire extinguishers for home today, it’s a no-brainer to buy a few to place at home.
Maybe you already have one at home, but it has been left so long – that you don’t even know if it’s still working. Some questions you might have:
- How often should fire extinguishers be replaced?
- Do they expire?
- How many fire extinguishers do you need for a typical terrace house in Malaysia?
- What type of fire extinguisher is suitable for home?
In this post, we’ll answer these questions.
Why having a fire extinguisher at home is a must.
Fire extinguishers play an important role for your home.
A report by The Edge in 2016, showed that 54.9% of fire incidents in Malaysia were reported from residential areas. Ouch!
In 2020, a statistic released by the Bomba Malaysia, recorded a total of 24,810 fire incidents. The numbers are only for the first half of year 2020, and that alone has accumulated a loss of more than RM1.2 billion!
Photo Credit: The Star
The truth is – some of these incidents can be avoided, if the home owners had a fire extinguisher at home.
With the amount of flammable materials we have at home, like curtains, beddings, carpets and furniture, fire can easily spread.
In fact, did you know if you’re planning to buy a home insurance (which you should) having safety equipment like a fire extinguisher can help you to lower the premium. That’s a win-win situation!
Okay, so what are the types of fire extinguishers available and which one should you buy for a residential home?
4 types of fire extinguishers.
There are 4 types of fire extinguishers that you can commonly buy from most hardware stores in Malaysia.
1 – Dry powder fire extinguisher.
Also known as the ABC extinguisher, dry powder fire extinguisher is a multi-purpose extinguisher that works on most types of fires. It can be used in fires involving flammable gas/liquid, electronic equipment, and organic materials such as wood, fabrics, and cardboard, making it the ideal extinguisher to have for fires that may occur at home.
However, some experts do not recommend it to be used in enclosed spaces. This is because the powder can be easily inhaled, which can be bad for your health.
Another thing to note is that dry powder fire extinguishers may not be too effective for kitchen fires, because the powder used isn’t equipped to deal with fires involving cooking oil.
Do not use dry powder extinguishers for: Kitchen fires and fires in enclosed spaces.
2 – Water fire extinguisher
Another popular type of extinguisher for household & commerical use is the water-based fire extinguisher.
Water extinguisher works by spraying water to the heat source, removing its heat and eventually putting out the fire itself. This makes it useful for putting out fires involving paper, wood, light furnishing, and other flammable solid materials.
Do not use water extinguishers for: Fires involving electronic equipment, flammable liquid/ gas, and kitchen fires.
3 – Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher.
Carbon dioxide extinguishers are commonly used for fire involving electrical equipment. It works by suffocating fire with carbon dioxide (reducing oxygen to the fire).
Because carbon dioxide is a non-conductive gas, it will not react with the electrical wiring. Thus, making it the ideal medium to protect computer and electrical equipment from fire, and preventing more flames to erupt.
Carbon dioxide extinguishers are usually installed in offices and server rooms, where lots of electrical wiring are present. They are not too common for home uses.
Do not use carbon dioxide extinguishers for: Kitchen fire, flammable gases, and combustible solid materials.
4 – Wet chemical fire extinguisher.
Wet chemical extinguishers are highly recommended to fight fires involving cooking oil.
When applied, the chemical (potassium) released will react with the fats and oils, leaving a foam-like barrier that functions to cool and extinguish the fire – preventing oil, which is combustible as well, to continue burning.
It can also be applied on fires involving flammable materials such as cloth, paper and plastics. But people generally buy this type of extinguisher for the kitchen only.
Do not use wet chemical extinguishers for: Fires involving flammable liquid/gas, electronic equipment, and flammable metals.
So, which fire extinguisher is best for home use?
Ultimately, for convenience and flexibility, buy a dry powder fire extinguisher. It works best in most situations, is more affordable and is the choice for most homes.
Buy a fire extinguisher for your home: Fire extinguishers at HOMA2u
Then if needed, get a wet chemical extinguisher to place in your kitchen, if you cook a lot, in case of fires involving cooking oil.
How many fire extinguishers and where to place them at home?
Generally, you should have one fire extinguisher on every floor of your home.
However, if you live in a condominium or if your house only has one floor, then it’s best to place them at key places in your home. Here are some areas to think about.
1 – Your kitchen.
Why? Because it’s the most obvious heat source in your home.
Fire caused by cooking is one of the most common domestic fire cases in Malaysia. Especially if you’re cooking or accidentally left food on your stove unattended, accidents might happen.
Make sure your fire extinguisher is placed close to your kitchen. But, don’t place it next to your stove. In case of fire, smoke and flame could block your vision and limit your access to a fire extinguisher if it’s too near.
Safety tip: Never keep your extinguishers close to any heat source. Always keep them at a safe distance away.
2 – Car porch or garage.
This is a place where most homeowners store their tools, equipment, chemical products and most infrequently used items.
Make sure your fire extinguisher is close at reach. We usually recommend placing it just beside the door to your home garage.
3 – Bedrooms.
Most fires happen during the night. In the event of a fire, rather than running around searching for a fire extinguisher, it’s always safer to have one close by when you wake up.
Don’t like the bright red-colored fire extinguishers? You can also opt for creative designer fire extinguishers, such as the ones below to match the design of your rooms.
Where can I buy fire extinguishers in Malaysia?
Some homeowners have a misconception that a license is required, to buy a fire extinguisher. Well, you can actually buy fire extinguishers online, if you’re buying a few units.
As for the typical price of fire extinguishers for homes, they typically range between RM49.90 to RM298.00. You’ll find that the difference in price is mainly due the extinguisher types and their designs.
Here are some our picks:
1 – UNIQUE Conventional Fire Extinguisher – RM49.90
How to choose the right fire extinguisher size?
This is another frequently asked question we’d receive from homeowners.
The size of the fire extinguisher you should buy depends on your house layout and size. Fire extinguishers generally comes in 3 sizes:
- 10-pound (~4.5kg) – Best for your home garage or storage room, where fire may spread easily. Probably get a big one if you live in a bigger house.
- 5-pound (~2.3kg) – Suitable to be placed in your kitchen area. It’s light enough for a quick grab and just enough to put out a big fire.
- 2-pound (~0.9kg) – Super lightweight. Fire extinguishers of this size are usually disposable. Placed mostly in your car or used during outdoor activities like camping.
Ready to buy your first fire extinguisher?
Fire extinguishers are something many homeowners neglect buying, untill it’s too late. Don’t make the same mistake. We advise having fire extinguishers at home, the moment you move in.
What are some other questions you have about fire extinguishers that we’ve not answered? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to help.