Fighting Fires with Kidde

by jessicaturner on November 21, 2013

IMG_9711When I was in middle school, my family went to my aunt and uncle’s house for the family’s annual 4th of July bash. They lived about 90 minutes from us, so we were gone all day and into the night. When we got home, our house was filled with white smoke. My parents had started the dishwasher before we left and the heating element never turned off. Everything melted.

The fire department came. The smell of that burnt plastic is engrained in my memory. It was a night I will never forget. We were so fortunate that nothing beyond a melted dishwasher resulted.

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The Team: Jessica (Momma’s Gone City/#theoandbeau), me, Amy (Selfish Mom) and Colby (Days of a Domestic Dad)

As an adult, mother, homeowner and employee of a local hospital, I am passionate about safety. So when Kidde Fire Safety asked me along with four other bloggers to be a part of a year-long ambassador program, I eagerly agreed. It is my prayer that this series encourages you to evaluate your home’s fire and carbon monoxide safety. It is so very important.

Kidde is the world’s largest manufacturer of fire safety products, with more than 95 years experience. They also are an incredibly generous company, each year donating more than 100,000 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and fire extinguishers to fire departments and nonprofit organizations nationwide.

Our first experience as ambassadors was to come to Kidde’s headquarters in North Carolina to learn about the products they offer related to fire and carbon monoxide safety.

We then had the opportunity to use a variety of fire extinguishers to put out some fires in their testing area.

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One of the recommendations that they made was that people invest in a small fire extinguisher just to try out – without a fire, of course. Just buy one and use it on your driveway. I had never thought of that, but it makes so much sense. Using the fire extinguisher was very unfamiliar feeling to me (though not hard to use) and after having the testing experience I know I would feel a lot more equipped if I had a small fire in my home.

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It is important to note that fire extinguishers are designed for insipient fires, which are fires that are in their earlier stages. Once they get huge, you have no business fighting them.

We had the opportunity to put out three fires. The first two I was unsuccessful in extinguishing. Check out this quick, less-than-a-minute video of my first fire. Watching it afterward, it was clear to see what I was doing wrong. Maybe it will teach you something too.

I was able to put out the stove-top fire, which to me was a huge win since this is most-likely to be the type of fire someone would experience in their home. (I was clearly shocked and proud.)

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I aimed at the base of the fire and kept the extinguisher moving. Sometimes a fire can actually “leap” out of the pan, so it is important to stay on the fire’s base until it is out.

Kidde makes a special kitchen extinguisher that uses a non-toxic fire suppressing agent specified for kitchen fires. It has a specially designed nozzle that minimizes the chance of oil splashing by gently dispersing the dry chemical agent in an arc instead of in a straight line, like other kitchen fire extinguishers. Furthermore, the Kidde fire extinguisher uses a non-toxic sodium bicarbonate powder that cleans up easily and is electrically nonconductive, which is important for kitchen fires.

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After this experience, I realized how ill-equipped our home was should we have a fire. We had one fire extinguisher in the kitchen that frankly was way too small.

We have since ordered extinguishers for the kitchen, the living room (because we have a fireplace) and every bedroom.

Fire safety is incredibly important and should not be pushed off for another time or an ‘it won’t happen to me philosophy.’

Related: Did you read this story in Vogue by Madonna Badger, the mother who tragically lost her children and her parents in a house fire after Christmas 2011? It’s powerful and worth the read.

Have you ever used a fire extinguisher before? Does your home have enough fire extinguishers in it?



{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate @ The Shopping Mama November 21, 2013 at 5:44 am

That video was eye-opening! I have never used a fire extinguisher and, honestly, wouldn’t have the slightest idea what I was doing! These tips are really helpful. And, thanks for the link to the Madonna Badger article – that was a truly heartbreaking tragedy.

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Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife} November 21, 2013 at 5:50 am

This is SO important. We have a fire extinguisher in our kitchen but I’m terrified to use it. I love that they had you actually practice with it.

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Kayla Aimee November 21, 2013 at 6:32 am

This is so helpful, I actually have no idea how to use a fire extinguisher. That’s a good thing to know BEFORE a fire, you know?!

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jessicaturner November 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

I don’t know why I never thought to buy a fire extinguisher just to learn how to use it! Definitely worth the $20 investment.

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Amanda @ Life.Edited. November 21, 2013 at 7:37 am

Thank you for this post, Jessica! I needed this reminder. And I had no idea about the “spray the base of the fire” thing! So good to know before it’s too late. Also: you looked super cute putting out those fires. :)

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Amy November 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

I have never used a fire extinguisher. This is fascinating. Clearly, you missed your calling! ;-)

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Christine Koh November 21, 2013 at 8:37 am

Eep. I *really* need to get educated with the fire extinguisher thing. We have one…I have no idea how to use it.

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Jan C. November 21, 2013 at 10:26 am

We have extinguishers in the kitchen, garage, and basement. I need to replace them all though–I think I got them when we moved into the house in 1999!

One big mistake I made as a teenaged babysitter really stuck in my mind as a lesson. I was making popcorn and had oil heating in a covered pan on the stove. I got distracted by the children, and when I returned and lifted the lid to add the corn kernels, flames leapt up. I panicked and ran water into the pan. Lord, I was lucky the flames didn’t leap onto my clothing. The hot oil was carried by the cold water into a cloud of grease that spread over the entire kitchen. I spend hours cleaning up the mess. When I confessed what had happened to the people I was sitting for, the mom wasn’t angry. She said, “omg, that just happened to me last week. There’s a big container of salt right over the stove, and you can use that to smother the flames if it ever happens to you again.” Of course, I could also just have put the lid back on the pan and removed it from the heat . . . . And a fire extinguisher would have helped immensely. Thanks for the tips!

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jessicaturner November 21, 2013 at 11:17 am

Wow – how scary! Thank you for sharing this story.

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Nina Helleny November 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

This post is so helpful. I’ve caught a pan on fire twice now since being married and I always freak out. I needed to read this. Thank you!!

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Robin Troxell November 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Great post. I have sat thru basic instructions on PASS but never actually used a fire extinguisher. We have two in our home, but I wonder if they ever expire? I need to check. and a great reminder to check on our smoke detectors! Thanks!

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jessicaturner November 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Today, I noticed that one of our fire extinguishers at work is expired! So important to check these things.

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QuatroMama November 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Jess, this is such an important message to get out there, and you did it so well. And can I say that that fire extinguishing stuff looked like a blast? I might just have to light some ovens on fire out in the field just for practice!

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jessicaturner November 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm

ha! Don’t light anything on fire, but definitely practice!

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Erin @ Blue-Eyed Bride November 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

First of all… I am impressed! I don’t think I know how to use a fire extinguisher. And I think my first reaction would be to panic and not think clearly. These are great tips!

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Hayley Morgan November 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I haven’t used a fire extinguisher EVER…I think I’m going to go buy one and try it out in the driveway, just to be aware of how it works. I’m not even sure I could tell you how to work it.

I always really value the practical way you approach these sorts of issues–helpful and not alarmist. You make me feel empowered rather than freaked out.

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jessicaturner November 21, 2013 at 3:09 pm

You definitely should, Hayley. And your boys would love seeing it in action. Such a practical home safety lesson.

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Whitney November 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

That Vogue story…now I’m balling. Thanks for posting this. Pinning to come back and read again, and I’m going to put fire extinguishers on my Christmas list.

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jessicaturner November 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I was undone after that Vogue story. And yes, to fire extinguishers on your Christmas list!

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Tana Hallows November 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm

great post! I know we wouldn’t be prepared…adding it to our pre-Christmas list!

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Angie L. November 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm

If my husband has any say in the purchase of a wedding gift, he insists on a carbon monoxide detector and a fire extinguisher. Safety first!

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