Chances are your home has at least one fire extinguisher and you probably have never used it. If you do not have a fire extinguisher, get one! And if you already have one and are unsure how to use if, this article was written for you.
Is Your Fire Extinguisher Operable?
Take a close look at your home's fire extinguisher(s). In general, the lifespan of the average fire extinguisher is between 5 and 15 years. However, most people lose track of when they originally buy their fire extinguisher and in most cases, they are left in the home when the home is sold. In order to be completely sure that your fire extinguisher will function, it is imperative that you take a few minutes each month to check the pressure gauge. If you see that the needle is in the green space, it will function. If the needle is in any other position, you should immediately replace it or have it serviced.
Attempting to use an inoperable fire extinguisher in the midst of a home fire is a scenario that you can easily avoid. If you own an older fire extinguisher without a gauge, have its pressure gauge checked by a professional on a regular basis. Also, be sure to have your fire extinguisher serviced once each year, regardless of whether it is a new or old model. You can find groups that service and refill fire extinguishers with a simple Google search.
When examining your fire extinguisher, look for signs of wear and tear or possible malfunction. If the nozzle or hose is ripped, cracked or impeded with any sort of debris, have it serviced or replaced right away. Take a look at the handle as well to see if it is broken or wobbly and check the locking pin. If it is unsealed or missing, have the fire extinguisher serviced or replaced. Finally, verify that the hang tag or inspection sticker is attached to the fire extinguisher. It should include a record of maintenance and checkups. If the fire extinguisher has been used in the past, do not keep it in the house. Replace it with a new fire extinguisher as soon as possible.
How to use a Fire Extinguisher
Grab your fire extinguisher and take a look at the instructions today. Do not wait until you need to use the device to potentially save a life. While there are numerous styles of fire extinguishers, they are all operated in the same manner. Be aware that the average fire extinguisher has about 10 seconds worth of extinguishing power. If it has been used in the past, it might not last for the full 10 seconds. Ideally, you will reach out to fire prevention professionals for hands-on training so that you are comfortable using a fire extinguisher in the event of an emergency. Contact your local fire department to take advantage of this service.
Use the "PASS” acronym when operating a fire extinguisher. "P” stands for pull the pin located at the top of the device. Once pulled, the pin releases a locking mechanism that allows you to start spraying. "A” stands for aiming at the fire's base rather than the flames. This is the most efficient way to put out a fire. "S” stands for squeezing the lever slowly. Doing so releases the extinguisher's extinguishing agent. When the handle is released the discharge stoops. The final "S” is a reference to sweeping from side to side. Spray with a sweeping motion, moving the fire extinguisher left and right until the fire is out.
Be sure to take advantage of our Friday Fire Extinguisher giveaways on Facebook, every Friday in October.