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Choose the best extinguisher, avoid disaster

April 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
House fires are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. Hundreds die every year and most fires start in the kitchen. Consumer Specialist Ric Romero shows you which fire extinguishers to buy and which to avoid. Eyewitness News teamed up with Consumer Reports to test out several fire extinguishers to find the ones that could help prevent a disaster from happening in your home. Unfortunately, a couple of those that were tested had problems.

Firefighters know how quickly a kitchen fire can spread and that's why having a good fire extinguisher on hand is so important.

"The first few seconds are very vital. It means the difference between extinguishing a small, incipient fire on a stove or on a stove top and the fire consuming your kitchen or a portion of your house," said deputy fire commissioner John Cullen.

Consumer Reports just tested more than a dozen extinguishers, including seven smaller ones convenient for the kitchen. Also tested were two new types of aerosol sprays. Testers created fires using a flammable liquid to see how well each one could battle a blaze.

"Most did well, but the two aerosol sprays sometimes caused the fire to flare up. And while they may look a lot like fire extinguishers, they're not," explained John Galeotafiore, Consumer Reports.

But you wouldn't get that from the first alert tundra unless you read the fine print.

"Another problem, these cans don't have a pressure indicator, so there's no way of knowing if they're ready to use, which is critically important," said Galeotafiore.

Consumer Reports rates the kitchen guard and first alert tundra aerosol sprays a "Don't buy."

A better choice for your kitchen is one from Kidde. It's the $19 model FX10K. It was easy to use and quickly extinguished the test fires.

Besides having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, Consumer Reports recommends that you have multi-purpose extinguishers on every floor of your home. An important safety check when buying an extinguisher is to check that the pressure indicator register is full.


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