Do you have a fire extinguisher? Do you know where it is? Do you know how to use it?
Dena Gunning of our Central County Fire Department says, “A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives.” But, she adds, “Portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the No. 1 priority for everyone is to get out safely!”
To use a fire extinguisher, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) asks us to remember the word “PASS”:
- Pull the pin
- Aim low at the fire
- Squeeze the lever
- Sweep side to side with the nozzle
Here are some safety tips from NFPA for using fire extinguishers:
- For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher (can be used on all types of home fires) that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.
- Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.
- Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out. Local fire departments or fire equipment distributors often offer hands-on fire extinguisher training.
- Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.
- Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.
- Besides a fire extinguisher in your home, make sure all your smoke detectors are working correctly.