Fire extinguishers are standard fixtures we usually see in the hallways at work, inside big establishments, in schools, and sometimes at home too. But no matter how many times we’ve seen these fire quenchers, we may have less to zero knowledge as to how to use them. You may have thought that it is not something you need to learn, or maybe you presume it’s just as easy as one, two, three. Thus, we often ask, how do you use a fire extinguisher?
Though this isn’t rocket science, learning a few basic tricks on how to use fire extinguishers may have its benefits. It will make you well prepared in case of emergencies. Let me walk you through some tips and tricks on how to use a fire extinguisher.
What is the Right Extinguisher to Use?
Before we go to the tips and tricks of how to use a fire extinguisher, let us first know the different types of fires.
Fire extinguishers come in various types, and each one is specifically designed to put out different kinds of fire. These are the different classifications of fires.
Class A – Solid combustibles like wood, cloth, and paper products fuel these fires. Class A fire extinguishers are usually filled with water or dry chemicals and are used on most combustibles.
Class B – Gases and flammable liquids like oil and petroleum fuel these fires. Class B fire extinguishers were specifically created to put out fires caused by gases and flammable liquids.
Class C – Faulty electrical wiring, fuse boxes, and appliances start these fires. (Be careful not to use water or else you’ll get electrocuted!)
Class D – Flammable metals fuel these fires. Class D fire extinguishers are made to put out fires caused by flammable metals.
Class K – Greases, oils, and animal and vegetable fats fuel these fires. (Never use water on a grease fire! The water will cause the flames to spread and eventually explode.)
Most of the fire extinguishers we often see in public places and even in homes are classified as ABC extinguishers. You can buy these types on Amazon for $30 to $60 or visit a hardware store near you.
If you’re working in a commercial kitchen, then you’ve probably seen Class K extinguishers. These types are commonly used in commercial kitchens because they’re more powerful in putting out grease fires and less likely to create damage in cooking appliances. But for small grease fires in home kitchens, a Class ABC extinguisher will be most likely to get the job done. Be careful though, ABC extinguishers might still damage your kitchen stove. If it’s just a tiny fire, try putting it out with a pot lid or wool blankets first before using an extinguisher.
Things to Consider Before Using a Fire Extinguisher
Now that you have understood the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses, you need to be able to operate one properly. But make sure to have these criteria in place before using a fire extinguisher:
- You know how to handle a fire extinguisher.
- In case you can’t put out the fire, you have an alternative escape path.
- You’re using the proper fire extinguisher, and you’re aware of what’s burning.
- The fire is small enough to be extinguished.
What’s the Best Way to Use a Fire Extinguisher?
Yes, we tend to panic during an emergency, so as a precaution, fire safety coined an acronym to help you recall the steps in operating your fire extinguisher.
The correct way to use a fire extinguisher follows the PASS method:
- Pull the pin between the handles.
- Aim the nozzle or the hose low toward the base of the fire, and maintain a 6-10 feet distance between you and the fire.
- Squeeze the handle or lever to release the extinguisher.
- Sweep the extinguishing nozzle from side to side, aiming at the base of the fire until the flames are out.
Where to Put Fire Extinguishers at Home
Significant buildings and schools have likely to have fire extinguishers in place. Although it is not an ordinary commodity people think about buying, it’s assuring to note to have one within arm’s reach in case of a fire outbreak. A fire extinguisher can keep a small incident from turning into a catastrophe.
Should you get one, an ABC extinguisher is the perfect fit for houses. It’s best to keep one in each room where fires are most likely to break out, especially in the kitchen.
Store fire extinguishers away from kids (somewhere they can’t easily reach) but accessible enough for the adults to grab in case of a fire.
Do not store them near stoves or appliances where fires may start and spread quickly. The best location for the fire extinguisher is to mount near the door or your escape paths.
How Often Must Fire Extinguishers Be Inspected?
Fire extinguishers are considered active equipment to help control fires. The good news is, this portable equipment typically has no expiry date. So it can stay in your home longer, thank you think. However, most people fail to remember that a fire extinguisher also needs to be recharged after every use and maintained even if it hasn’t been used.
So how often do fire extinguishers need to be checked?
You may need to have fire extinguisher inspections monthly, yearly, and every six years, and hire an accredited professional to perform such checks.
Indeed a fire extinguisher is much more like an insurance: you buy it hoping you would never have to use it. Though you may never need to use it, it’s assuring you to note why you’d want to have one within arm’s reach. The peace of mind it offers that in the event a fire occurs, you need not look far to ask for help. And learning how to use one gives you that extra boost when anytime someone asks, how do you use a fire extinguisher?
We hope that we gave you all the necessary information you need to know how to use a fire extinguisher to prevent any further damage to people and property in case a fire breaks out. Always bear in mind that safety is key. May these tips and tricks come in handy in case of an emergency. Find out more about emergency plans.