Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher in it. Having one, however, is just one step. One should know how to properly use a fire extinguisher, to keep your loved ones safe in case of a fire.
Most household fires fall under one of these categories:
Class A: Fueled by solid combustibles like paper, wood and cloth.
Class B: Fueled by flammable liquids, such as oil, gasoline and petroleum.
Class C: Started or fueled by faulty wiring, appliances, or fuse boxes.
Class K: Fueled or started by grease or cooking oil, animal fat or vegetable fat.
All fire extinguishers are labeled to show you what kind of fire they are capable of fighting. Most household fire extinguishers are labeled for multipurpose use, which typically includes Classes A, B and C. Class K fires are heavier and usually require a heavier duty extinguisher. In addition to the label indicating which class of fire, the extinguishers typically have symbols on them to indicate what kind of fires the extinguisher is designed to fight.
Once you understand the type of fire extinguisher you have and its use, you should be able to properly operate one. Here are some tips on how to properly use a fire extinguisher:
- Have an evacuation route/plan for exiting the home, in case you cannot put out the fire.
- Stand back at least six to eight feet from the fire with your back to the exit as you prepare to use the extinguisher.
- Pull the pin on the extinguisher.
- Aim the nozzle on the hose low, toward the bottom of the fire.
- Squeeze the handle or lever on the extinguisher.
- Move the nozzle from side to side aimed at the bottom/base of the fire until all flames are extinguished.
After the flames have extinguished, continue to watch the area to make sure the fire does not reignite.
The use of a fire extinguisher should not take the place of a call to the Fire Department. You should call them first if you have a chance or call after you have extinguished the fire, so they can check to make sure the fire is completely out. If you have any doubts as to your safety and do not feel comfortable using the extinguisher, leave the property and find a safe place out of reach of the fire to wait for the Fire Department to arrive.