After smoke detectors, fire extinguishers might be your best defense in the event of a fire in your home or office. Used properly, on the right type of fire, they can prevent the spread of flames, reduce smoke and fire damage, and maybe even save your life. Here’s what you need to know about them.
First, fire extinguishers have limits. They are intended for use on small, contained fires. A fire can quickly get out of control, so call 911 right away, even if you think you can or have put the fire out. Always fight the fire with your back to an unobstructed exit, and if the room is filling with smoke, or the flames are taller than you, get out. Make sure you have a fire escape plan before a fire emergency occurs.
Make Sure You Use the Right Extinguisher on the Right Type of Fire.
Fire extinguishers can prevent a small fire from becoming a large fire. It’s important to be familiar with the different types of extinguishers so you know which one to use, and when to use it. Fire extinguishers can be classified as type A, B, C, D or some combination of these letters.
Class A fire extinguishers are used to put out fires that started with solid organic materials like wood, paper, or cardboard.
Class B fire extinguishers are used to put out fires linked to flammable liquids or gases like kerosine or gasoline.
Class C fire extinguishers are used to put out electrical fires.
Class D fire extinguishers are rarely used in homes or office environments because it is used to put out fires caused by combustible metals.
Class K fire extinguishers are generally only seen in commercial kitchens and are used to put out serious grease fires.
Most experts recommend purchasing multipurpose class A/B/C fire extinguishers for home use. Class A/B/C extinguishers use monoammonium phosphate which can be used to extinguish paper/wood fires, flammable liquid fires, and electrical fires. Buy the largest one you can comfortably handle and keep it fully charged and pressurized.
Put Your Extinguishers in the Right Places.
You should have at least one fire extinguisher on each level of your home. They should be kept out of reach of children, but easily accessible for adults. Keep them where a fire is most likely to start and near an exit. The kitchen and the garage are common starting places for house fires. You should also keep a fire extinguisher in the room if you have wood burning fireplace.
Know How to Use Your Fire Extinguisher.
So now you understand the limits and benefits of fire extinguishers. You have bought and strategically placed them around your house. But do you know how to use one? According to FEMA, most Americans don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher. You don’t want to be Googling directions or looking up a Youtube video while your stove top becomes a blazing inferno.
Just remember to PASS. Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.
Pull the pin.
Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the trigger carefully. The contents are under pressure so squeeze with control.
Sweep the flames out. Continue aiming at the base of the fire and use a sweeping back and forth motion to extinguish the fire.
Whew! You put the fire out. Keep an eye on ground zero (the origin of the fire) while you wait for the fire department to arrive. Tiny embers have a sneaky way of re-igniting. Be sure to get your fire extinguisher recharged and re-pressurized right away; or dispose of and replace a disposable one. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Check out our fire safety check list here.
If you experience a fire in your home or office ServiceMaster of the Twin Cities can help with the cleanup. We know how traumatizing a fire can be and that you just want things to get back to normal. Fire damage restoration, smoke damage restoration, and odor removal are key to helping you get back on track and on with your life. Call us today at 612-871-3885. We take calls 24/7.
Outreach materials and educational programs. (n.d.). Fema.gov. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/
osha.gov. (n.d.). Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool | Portable Fire Extinguishers. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/portable.html
PS You can buy the poster at safetymedia.co.uk