Portable Fire Extinguishers
A portable fire extinguisher can be a homeowner's best friend in combating
small fires before they can turn into a raging inferno. But a homeowner must
have the right type of extinguisher and know how to properly use it. The
following information should provide you with some useful guidelines.
Selecting a fire extinguisher
When burning, different materials will require different extinguishing agents.
Therefore, extinguishers are labeled with the letters A, B, or C (or a
combination) to designate their proper use.
Class A; Ordinary combustibles
These fires involve wood, paper, clothing, etc. Water can be used on these
Class B; Flammable Liquids
Some examples of these fires are gasoline, oil, or grease fires in the
kitchen. Use of water on these fires will not extinguish them, but instead can
make them spread.
Class C; Electrical Fires
Any fires that involve electricity fall into this category. Electrical
appliances, even though they may be made up of "class A" materials, are
considered to be "Class C" until it is certain the electricity is off. Because
water is a conductor of electricity, it should never be used on these fires.
Purchasing your extinguisher
Since all of these fire classifications may be present in the home, it is
recommended that you purchase a fire extinguisher that handles all types of
fires. Multipurpose Dry Chemical (ABC) Extinguishers are relatively
inexpensive and are readily available at hardware or department stores. These
extinguishers are capable of handling all of the common types of fires
mentioned above. Avoid the temptation to purchase the smallest extinguisher
offered. It may not have enough extinguishing agent to combat a growing fire.
Instead, a five-pound ABC extinguisher is large enough to handle most incipient
fires that may develop, yet small enough to be handled by just about any member
of the household.
How many to buy, and where to mount them
There should be an extinguisher on every level of your home. Mount the
extinguisher(s) in a location that is easy to reach in an emergency. The best
location is often next to a door or entrance so you will not have to pass the
flames or smoke in order to reach it.
Using A Fire Extinguisher
1) A fire extinguisher is no substitute for the
fire department. Only use a fire extinguisher after you have notified the fire
2) Only use an extinguisher on small fires. Make sure that you can get out if
the fire grows. If you feel that a fire is too big to control with the
extinguisher, Get Out! The fire department is on the way.
3) Start from about 6 feet away. Use the "PASS" system:
P: Pull the Pin
A: Aim the hose or nozzle at the base of the flames
S: Squeeze the Handle (the extinguisher will discharge)
S: Sweep from side to side, moving in on the fire as it dies down.
If the fire does not go out quickly, close the door to the room and exit the
premises immediately. Wait for the fire department out front and direct them
to the location of the fire.
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