If a fire was to occur, fire extinguishers may help control a fire or prevent it from spreading. It is important that every household have at least one extinguisher and that everyone knows how to properly use it. At a minimum, experts recommend one for the kitchen, the garage and workshop. It is equally important that you do not put yourself in harms way in an attempt to extinguish a fire. If the fire is too large to handle or too dangerous, evacuate your house and wait for training and properly equipped firefighters to arrive.
Fire extinguishers are divided into four categories, based on different types of fires. Each fire extinguisher also has a numerical rating that serves as a guide for the amount of fire the extinguisher can handle.
Fire extinguishers also have a numerical rating that provides a quick guide as to the amount of fire a particular extinguisher should be able to extinguish. The higher the number, the larger the fire the extinguisher should be able to handle.
The following is a quick guide to help choose the right type of extinguisher.
Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics.
Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish.
Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires - the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. If you suspect a possible electrical fire, it is best to turn off any power to the area first before attempting to extinguish the fire!
Class D fire extinguishers are commonly found in a chemical laboratory. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. There is no numerical rating for Class D extinguishers.
Before using a fire extinguisher, it is important that you read the instructions provided by the manufacturer. These instructions will give you important information on its intended use and proper operations.
As a quick reference on how to use a fire extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS.
Pull the pin. This will allow you to squeeze the handle in order to discharge the extinguisher
Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames. Aiming at the middle will do no good. The agent will pass through the flames.
Squeeze the lever slowly. This will release the pressurized extinguishing agent.
Sweep from side to side. Cover the entire area that is on fire. Continue until fire is extinguished. Keep an eye on the area for re-lighting.