Does your home have a Fire Extinguisher and if so, do you know how to use it in an emergency? Portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives, but the number one priority is to get out safely.
Use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing; everyone has exited the building; the fire department has been called or is being called, and the room is not filled with smoke.
To use a fire extinguisher, Remember P.A.S.S
- Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
Be sure to choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent test laboratory. And install or place your extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an escape if necessary. Know when to go – if smoke fills the room, leave immediately. Have a family escape plan in place to help prepare your family in case of a house fire.
- Ensure accessibility. Make sure the extinguisher is in its proper spot, visible and easy to access.
- Inspect the seals. Look over the tamper and safety seals to make sure they are intact.
- Check the pressure. If your fire extinguisher has a pressure gauge, be sure that the gauge needle indicates proper pressure. If the fire extinguisher has a test indicator, press it to make sure the pressure reading is within the correct range.
- Look for damage. Visible signs of damage, such as corrosion, leakage or a clogged nozzle, may mean it’s time to replace the extinguisher.
- Document your inspection. Keep track of your extinguisher monthly checks and maintenance. Some extinguishers come with an inspection tag for this purpose.
- All portable fire extinguishers are to be serviced by a current and valid State Fire Marshal license and certificate of registration holder (technician) annually. To search for the validity of a company and/or a technician use these certified lists from The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM).
Fire extinguishers are often an overlooked part of a home safety plan. Do your checks, know how to use them, contact your local fire department if you need help or more resources and be sure your extinguishers are ready for use — just in case.