Using a Fire Extinguisher
Here are some helpful tips and suggestions about fires and the use of fire extinguishers. Need more? Talk to your local fire and police officials about safety training programs in your area. Remember - be safe and be smart.
Most household fire extinguishers should carry an ABC rating. An ABC rating is appropriate for most household fires. Check the label on your fire extinguisher to see which rating it carries.
Types of fires
Class A — involve common combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, trash and plastics.
Class B —involve grease, solvents, oil, gasoline, paints, lacquers and other oil-based products. Class B fires often spread rapidly.
Class C — involve are suitable for use on electrically energized fires such as wiring, controls, motors, machinery or appliance fires.
Class D — involve combustible metals.
Where to Store Your ABC-Rated Extinguisher
On every level of the home, including the kitchen
WHN Tip: Do NOT keep your extinguisher near the stove. If a fire breaks out at the stove, you want to be able to grab your extinguisher from elsewhere.
In basement, garage and any outbuilding
WHN Tip: Place the fire extinguisher by an exit so that you can leave if you notice the fire becoming too large for you to extinguish yourself.
Make sure to tell all family members where the extinguishers are located.
How to Use an Extinguisher
Train all family members - including responsible children - when and how to use fire extinguishers.
Use a fire extinguisher only if:
- The fire is small.
- You know how to use a fire extinguisher.
- The correct extinguisher is immediately at hand.
- You have a clear exit path behind you.
Remember this acronym: PASS:
P......Pull the Pin at the top of the extinguisher.
A......Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the flames.
S......Squeeze trigger while holding the extinguisher upright. If you release the handle, the discharge will stop.
S......Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, covering the area of the fire with the extinguishing agent. After the fire appears to be out, watch it carefully since it may re-ignite!
When to Inspect/Recharge/Replace
Inspect your extinguisher each month:
- Is it in the proper location (see above)?
- Is the charge level dial at 100 percent or "full"?
WHN Tip: If it is below those levels, have the extinguisher recharged by a professional (usually listed in the Yellow Pages or ask your fire department). Replace your extinguisher if it cannot be recharged.
Replace or recharge your extinguisher once it has been used, even if only a little material was released.
WHN Tip: Toxic?
Dry chemical extinguishers are usually filled with mono-ammonium phosphate, which is a nontoxic substance. However, large amounts of this powder in the air can cause breathing difficulties. Leave the room after an extinguisher is used.
If you'd like to dispose of your fire extinguisher, contact your local fire or sanitation departments. Your area may have local laws on correct and legal disposal.
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