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Follow These 3 Simple Rules for Using a Household Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher may help you fight a small household fire, but once a fire has started there will be no time to read any instructions. That’s why it is so important to know how to use a fire extinguisher before a fire occurs. If you haven’t already done so, familiarize yourself with your extinguisher now.

Below are some general rules for using a household fire extinguisher…

1) Make sure you have the correct type of fire extinguisher for what is burning

For example, extinguishers rated for Class A fires can be used on common combustibles such as paper, wood, cloth, rubber, and most plastics.

Class B extinguishers can be used on fires fueled by flammable liquids, such as grease, oil, gasoline, kerosene, and paint. Never use water on this type of fire as it can cause the fire to spread!

Class C extinguishers can be used on live electrical fires, such as those involving powered appliances and machinery, fuse panels, circuit breakers, electrical outlets or wiring. Never use water on an electrical fire as it can lead to a severe shock!

Fire extinguishers are commonly rated for multiple classes of fires. For example, most household extinguishers are rated ABC and can be used on Class A, B and C fires.

It is essential to know which type of fire extinguisher you have. Using a fire extinguisher to fight a class of fire for which it is not rated can be extremely dangerous, so do not attempt to fight a fire if you do not know what is burning or you do not have an extinguisher that is rated for the type of material that is burning.

2) Make sure you take the necessary precautions

A fire extinguisher is only designed to help you combat early-stage fires that are small and contained. If the fire is large and/or spreading, do not attempt to use the extinguisher – evacuate immediately and call the fire department. Also, if the room is filling with smoke or fumes, or you have difficulty breathing, it is safer to evacuate than it is to stay and fight the fire.

If you are confident you can fight the fire with the extinguisher, position yourself so that your back is to an unobstructed exit. This will provide you with a quick way out if the fire gets out of control. Also, if possible, have someone standing by to call for help if something should go wrong while you’re attempting to extinguish the fire.

3) Make sure you know how to use the fire extinguisher

It is imperative that the occupants of a home know the correct use of fire extinguishers. There will likely be a pin to pull or a latch to release in order to operate the extinguisher. Familiarize yourself with its operation now, so you’ll be prepared in the event of a fire.

What is the proper way to use a fire extinguisher? After you have pulled the pin or released the latch, stand several feet away and aim the nozzle at the base of the flames. Squeeze the lever of the fire extinguisher and spray at the fire’s base using a back and forth sweeping motion. Move closer as the fire starts to diminish.

PASS is a helpful acronym to remember. It stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.

After the fire appears to be extinguished, stop the spray by releasing the handle. Continue to keep watch over the area to make sure the fire is completely out. Repeat the process if the fire reignites. Also, remember to replace or recharge your extinguisher.

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