October is National Fire Prevention Month. While we all most likely know the basics of preventing fires in our homes, how many of us REALLY know how to properly use a fire extinguisher? If a grease fire accidentally starts in your kitchen skillet, will you be able to calmly react and be able to correctly use your fire extinguisher with confidence? You should know exactly how to use a fire extinguisher in the event a situation like this occurs, a fire develops and you feel you are safely able to fight it. It is recommended that only those trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate.
One of our carriers, Travelers Insurance, provides some great advice and fire extinguisher operation tips. Please take some time to read through these steps so you will be prepared in the event of an emergency.
Call for help before attempting to extinguish a fire. A fire may grow out of control more quickly than you anticipate. It is wise to have help on the way.
Determine a safe evacuation path before approaching the fire. Do not allow the fire, heat or smoke to come between you and your evacuation path.
Attack the Fire Using the PASS Method:
Aim low – point the extinguisher hose/nozzle at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever – this should discharge the extinguishing agent. Some extinguishers may have a button or other means of activation.
Sweep from side to side – while you are aiming at the base of the fire, you should sweep back and forth until the fire is extinguished. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.
Remember Additional Safeguards:
- Keep your back to an exit so that there is a viable means of retreating from the fire.
- Stand at least 8 feet from the fire and begin PASS.
- If the fire does not extinguish immediately, leave the fire.
- Have the fire department survey the area to ensure the fire has been extinguished and that there are not concealed areas where a fire could be smoldering.
- If an extinguisher is used (even partially), it needs to be recharged or replaced.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
Fire extinguishers should be regularly checked to ensure the following:
- The extinguisher is not blocked by furniture, doors or anything that may limit access during an emergency;
- It is properly mounted in the path of an exit and away from heat sources; and
- The pressure is at the recommended level. Your extinguisher may have a gauge that indicates when the pressure is too high or too low.