You've worked hard to make your home beautiful, so losing it in a house fire would be unbearable. You might think a fire couldn't happen to you, but you'd rather be safe than sorry. A fire extinguisher is an easy way to be prepared for the worst. However, if you've never used one before you may have some questions about how they work and what you need to do to ensure they work in an emergency. Here are the answers to some common questions about fire extinguishers: 

1. When should you use a fire extinguisher?

It may seem obvious that you should use a fire extinguisher when a fire occurs. However, you need to remember that fire extinguishers are only for smaller fires. If the fire is large, you should immediately get yourself out. You also should only use an extinguisher if you know what's burning and have the correct type of extinguisher for that kind of fire. You'll want to be aware of what class of fire is the most common in the area you are protecting and buy the right extinguisher. 

2. How do you work a fire extinguisher?

You will want to read the instructions that come with your specific extinguisher, but the majority of fire extinguishers will have similar directions. First, you will pull out the pin or ring that's between the handles at the top. Make sure you stay about 6-10 feet away from the fire and point the nozzle at the base of the fire. Then you squeeze the handles and make sure the spray covers the fire, moving it side to side until extinguished. 

3. Where should you keep a fire extinguisher?

Not surprisingly, fire extinguishers should be kept near an area that is most likely to have a fire, such as a kitchen or garage. Some experts also recommend keeping one in your laundry room. Make sure that you don't keep it too close to the sources so you are able to reach it safely in an emergency. You also will want to make sure it's mounted high enough that children or pets won't get into it. 

4. How often do you need a fire extinguisher recharged?

Once you have a fire extinguisher, it's not just good to go forever. They need to be recharged periodically by a company that performs fire extinguisher services or possibly your local fire department. If you've used it at all, even if you recently recharged it, you'll need to recharge it again. The same rule applies if the extinguisher becomes damaged in any way, either from dropping it, from rust, or from something else. Other than that, you want to recharge it every six years

5. How much does it cost to buy and maintain a fire extinguisher?

Fortunately, fire extinguishers don't cost you that much. The average extinguisher will cost about $15-$20 to buy. A multi-use extinguisher will be a little more expensive, costing anywhere from $35-$75. A recharge will likely cost about $20-50 each time. This cost is minimal when you consider how much protection you're providing your home and family. 

House fires can be scary, but you can prepare for them by buying a fire extinguisher, knowing how to use it, and making sure you regularly have it recharged. For more information, contact a company that performs fire extinguisher services in your area.