Home Fire Extinguishers
Have a warning and a weapon.
It's a simple slogan that may save your life and your home.
We all know that every home should have a least one smoke alarm per level (though more than one, like potato chips, is far better), and likely many of you do, but how many of you have a fire extinguisher to deal with the fire once you have been alerted? Likely far fewer. Having that fire extinguisher may mean the difference between a small fire causing limited damage, and completely losing your home before you the arrival of the fire department.
So what type of extinguisher should you buy, and where should it be located? And how should it be used?
Choosing& Locating A Fire Extinguisher
The best type of fire extinguisher for the home is the ABC Dry Chemical Extinguisher. The A refers to fires involving ordinary combustibles, such as trash, paper, wood, clothing and furniture. The B refers to flammable liquids such as cooking oils and grease, gasoline and paints, strippers and lacquers. Finally the C refers to fires involving energized electrical equipment such as computers, TVs and most other household appliances and electronics.
For a home without a heavy load of flammable liquids, generally speaking a single 5-pound ABC extinguisher is recommended. If you have a garage loaded with multiple gasoline-fired lawn and garden tools and toys, such as 4-wheelers and jet skis, and/or multiple containers of spare fuel, a second 10-pound extinguisher mounted in the garage area or at the entrance to the garage inside the home is strongly recommended.
Fire extinguishers can be purchased at any local or chain hardware store. When you do go to purchase an extinguisher, make sure the product has a UL seal (Underwriters Laboratory) on the box. This will guarantee that the extinguisher has been tested.
Please feel free to call us at 949-9440 or stop by our Central Fire Station at 4490 Highway 80 (near Platt and T.L Rodes Elementary Schools) in Haughton for any additional information or extinguisher recommendations based on your home's contents and layout.
The extinguisher should be located somewhere in the center of the home. Though fires in the kitchen are most common, residential fires can just as easily start from electronics or smoking in the bedroom or living areas, from the dryer in the laundry room, or from the hot water heater or the electrical panel box. In other words, a fire can occur in any room in the home. Place the extinguisher so that is can be rapidly accessed from anywhere in the home.
How to Use the Extinguisher
If you chose to use an extinguisher should a fire occur, the priority is still life safety. Before attempting to extinguish the fire, make sure that everybody in the house is aware of the fire and are exiting the structure. If you have small children, getting them safely out of the house must be the priority, and extinguishing the fire must be secondary. If you are the only adult in the home, concentrate on getting them out.
Also, make sure that you call the fire department before using the extinguisher, or you designate somebody else to call the fire department while you are preparing to use the extinguisher. This is critical as if you are unable to extinguish the fire, responders will already be enroute and will arrive sooner to control the emergency and minimize damage.
After completing the first 2 steps, if possible, turn off the heat to the burners, if it is a stove top or oven fire. If it is an electrical fire, again, if possible, unplug the appliance involved. If not able to safely reach the plug and fire conditions permit, access your home's electrical box and turn off the circuit breakers for that appliance. If the fire is still small, then attempt to extinguish the fire. If unable to control the power, that attempting to extinguish the fire will become more dangerous, and extinguishing the fire may not be possible as it will continue to receive electrical current.
Before using the extinguisher, please check that the needle on the gauge located at the top of the extinguisher is in the green area. This needle indicates the amount of air contained in the extinguisher, which is needed to force the extinguishing agent out of the extinguisher. If the gauge is in the red area, there may either be too little or too much air in the extinguisher, making it useless as a fire fighting tool.
If it is in the red area, set the extinguisher down and leave the building right away.
One final safety note, as the ABC Extinguisher has a range of 10'-15', it is recommended that you follow the 2-Step or 5-Foot Rule, meaning that you go no farter than 5 feet, which is roughly 2 steps, into a room that has a fire in it. Following this rule will allow you the ability to rapidly escape the room if the extinguisher malfunctions or the fire grows rapidly.
The final component to safely and effectively using a residential fire extinguisher is using the acronym PASS. This is the sequence of steps that will guide you through the extinguishment process.
P - Pull the pin on the extinguisher that prevents the handle from depressing. Test the extinguisher before attacking the fire.
A- Aim the hose at the base of the flames.
S - Squeeze the handle down, which will release the agent from the extinguisher.
S - Sweep from side to side until the flow of agent stops and the fire extinguisher is empty. Then back out, facing the fire.
At this point, put down the extinguisher and leave the building. Meet the fire department when they arrive and tell them if everybody is accounted for and has been safely evacuated from the home, the location of the fire, and if the fire was still burning when you left the house.
Do not re-enter the structure for any reason.
We are Here for You
Again, please feel free to stop by or call our Central Station at 949-9440 any time if you have any questions about what type of extinguisher to buy, where to place it or would like to know more about how to use it, including some hands-on training on our Training Grounds. We would also be happy to look at any extinguishers you may currently own and tell you if they are still in usable condition or should be replaced.
Please feel free to contact me at any time at 949-9440 or at email@example.com.