If a fire broke out right now, would you know where the closest fire extinguisher is? Even though most people will never use a fire extinguisher, it’s a critical lifesaving tool that you HAVE to know how to operate. According to NFPA 10, there are two key requirements to ensure that an extinguisher will perform in the event of a fire.
- Is it properly pressurized? A fire extinguisher won’t do you much good if it isn’t pressurized to the correct level. Take a look at the gauge, the needle should always be in the green zone. This tells you the extinguisher is pressurized and ready for use.
- Is it easy to spot? It should always be in plain sight, and not hidden behind other objects. There should be a sign indicating where the extinguisher is and a clear path to reach it. When a fire breaks out, every second counts, so you will want to have easy access to your extinguisher. Remember: See It. Grab It. Use It.
In the event of a fire, would you know how to use a fire extinguisher? Chances are good that you will never have to use a fire extinguisher. But if a situation arose where you wanted or needed to use one, knowing “how” to use it is as simple as P.A.S.S.
Ok, so you know where an extinguisher is in case of fire. How do you properly use it though? Remember the word P.A.S.S. (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep).
- 1st Pull the pin from the handle. Make sure you use a slight twisting motion to break the attached tamper seal.
- 2nd Aim at the base of the fire, this is where it is fueled.
- 3rd Squeeze the operating lever to release the extinguisher’s fire extinguishing agent.
- 4th Sweep back and forth from side to side to ensure the extinguishing agent is contacting all of the burning materials.
Using a fire extinguisher is a personal call. You, and only you, can determine if using one is the right call for whatever the situation. If you choose to fight a fire, never let a fire come between you and your exit. Before engaging any fire, ensure you have a safe way out. If a fire has grown too large, and you don’t feel you can extinguish it, use whatever means of egress available to you to escape.
Please keep these important tips in mind, if you’re ever faced with using a fire extinguisher. And always make sure someone calls 911 in the event of a fire—no matter what!