Most home fires start small, but because fire doubles every sixty seconds, it can cause huge damage and even take lives. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, fire kills over 3,500 and injure more than 18,300 Americans every year.
Fire extinguishers are a powerful tool in controlling house fires. But firefighters suggest that most homeowners don’t know how to use extinguishers—even when they have them in the house.
Using Fire Extinguisher
Different kinds of fires require specific types of fire extinguishers. For the home, it’s best to use an ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher, which can put out three most common types of home fires: wood and paper fires (class A), grease and oil fires (class B), and electrical fires (class C).
To use a fire extinguisher correctly, experts suggest remembering the acronym PASS. P stands for pulling the pin at the top of the extinguisher, while A is for aiming at the base of the fire and not on the flame. S reminds squeezing the lever slowly to release the extinguishing agent. The other S stands for sweeping the device from side to side.
How It Works
Flames need oxygen, fuel, and heat in order to burn. Fire extinguishers remove one of these elements by releasing an agent that either removes the surrounding oxygen or cools the burning fuel. The devices contain water and a smothering material, like carbon dioxide. You release the fire extinguishing material by pulling out the safety pin and squeezing the lever at the top of the cylinder.
Care and Maintenance
Inspect the fire extinguisher once a month. Make sure it isn’t blocked by furniture, appliances, and other house items that could interfere with access during an emergency. Check if the pressure is at recommended level. The needle should be in the green zone on extinguishers equipped with a gauge, not too high or too low. Make sure that the pin and tamper seal are intact. Wipe off any oil, gunk, and other corrosive chemicals that may have deposited on the extinguisher. Some manufacturers recommend shaking extinguishers once a month to prevent the powder from settling at the bottom.
Fire extinguishers can save properties and lives—but only if used properly and correctly. Check your state government office for free trainings to further learn how to use extinguishers.