It is highly recommended that each home has at least one fire extinguisher that can be used in the event of a small fire. With that being said, not all fire extinguishers are made the same. They are rated for specific uses and it is important to get the one that will be most practical for you. It is best to have multiple and be prepared for a variety of emergencies.
Fire extinguishers are put into classes based on the type of fire they are used on.
Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (green triangle)
Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (red square)
Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires - the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Geometric symbol (blue circle)
Class D fire extinguishers are commonly found in a chemical laboratory. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These types of extinguishers also have no numerical rating, nor are they given a multi-purpose rating - they are designed for class D fires only. Geometric symbol (Yellow Decagon)
Class K fire extinguishers are for fires that involve cooking oils, trans-fats, or fats in cooking appliances and are typically found in restaurant and cafeteria kitchens. Geometric symbol (black hexagon)
In addition to those, they make dry chemical fire extinguishers that can be used for multiple types of fires. A common rating for these is ABC, which is a combination of the above classes. They only downside is that the chemicals are more damaging to the item that caught fire.
Once you have researched and found the right fire extinguisher(s) for your home, be sure to show your family when, on what, and how to use them. Always store them where they are readily accessible and perform routine maintenance. Be safe!