FIRE EXTINGUISHERS - Essential Tools in Any Kitchen

No kitchen is properly equipped unless the chef's arsenal of tools includes a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are classified according to the types of fires they can extinguish: Class A for wood or plastic fires, Class B for grease or flammable liquid fires, Class C for electrical equipment fires.

For your kitchen, you'll want either a Class B extinguisher or an all-purpose extinguisher, which is rated effective for all three classes of fires. Small models often are available for under $25.

Keep your fire extinguisher handy but not too close to the stove, where flames could prevent you from reaching it. Many extinguishers come with wall-mounting brackets, but because fires can spread out of control in less than a minute, make sure yours releases quickly. If it doesn't, choose another one.

Read the instructions for using your fire extinguisher when you get it, not when you need it. If you ever have to use your fire extinguisher, stand between the fire and your escape route and spray the base of the fire with a quick side-to-side motion. Should the fire spread out of control, leave the house and call the fire department from a neighbor's residence. If you stay inside too long you could succumb to smoke inhalation, the primary cause of death associated with fires.

Hopefully, you'll never need your fire extinguisher. But stay prepared by having it tested once a year by a qualified service company.