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The Ugly, Necessary Accessory by Barbara Jennings

Now that the weather is colder for all of us, chances are you're using your furnace more, lighting the fireplace, maybe using space heaters more - that means you are increasing your risk of a fire indoors. I got my flammable, dried Christmas tree out of my home the next day because it appears unusually dry and I knew it was a huge risk to keep it any longer. Just the use or more extension cords and piles of gift-wrapped packages alone increases the risk for fire.

While it isn't romantic, or decorative, one gift we should all give and receive is a fire extinguisher. Yeah, I know they're ugly and big and difficult to manage. But now is the time to buy them as they are often on sale and you can pick one up for between $10-40 at any hardware store.

But there are many models to choose from so what do you do? Some extinguishers contain chemicals that are to be used to fight certain types of fires. Then there are ones that are more "all purpose" fire extinguishers.

Here are the main four categories:

  • Class A extinguishers are best for putting out wood and paper fires.
  • Class B extinguishers are for eliminating flammable-liquid fires (gasoline, oil, grease).
  • Class C extinguishers are used on fires caused by some electrical problem.
  • Class D extinguishers you use on flammable metals. A particular metal may be specified. Since more specialized, you probably won't find one in hardware stores.

Many extinguishers are rated with a combination of the above letters since they are considered "multi-class". At the very least one should buy several A-B-C rated extinguishers and put in strategic places throughout the house. Yeah, I know, they're ugly. But having a fire that gets out of hand and totally destroys your property or, worse yet, kills your loved ones is much uglier.

How To Use an Extinguisher

  1. Pull out the pin.
  2. Aim the extinguishers at the base of the fire.
  3. Squeeze the lever.
  4. Sweep the spray back and forth over the base of the fire until the fire appears to go out. Spray again if there are flare ups.

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One Important Decorating Color
How to Mix Patterns
Make House Plants Your Friends
A Fire's Best Friend
Cautions About Your Pillows
Using Quilts to Warm Up Your Home
The "Must-Have" Ugly Accessory
List of Free Decorating Tips

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(2004-05 Copyright Barbara Jennings)

Barbara Jennings
is the West Coast Pioneer in Redesign, author of 7 decorating books, a published artist, corporate art consultant, and furniture arrangement consultant. For training in professional furniture and accessory arrangement, or to start your own redesign or art consulting business, please visit: