Remember that no fire is inevitable. Home fires, apartment fires, and other building fires can be prevented. There are several ways to prevent your family from undergoing the potential destruction and life-threatening hazards that fire can cause. Among the best way to prevent potentially damaging and life threatening fires is by installing smoke alarms. According to NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency), properly installed and strategically placed smoke alarms will cut your chances of being injured or killed in a home fire nearly in half.
There are other ways, however, of protecting your property and loved ones from fire. Properly placed fire extinguishers are an excellent measure of immediate action that you, as the homeowner, can take in the event of a small fire. But always remember that fires do and will re-ignite if not properly extinguished, so in the event of a fire, of any size, be sure to contact us as a precautionary measure.
There are many different types of fires, and in turn there are many different types of fire extinguishers designated for use on each type of fire. It is a common misconception that water is the universal extinguisher. Often, however, if a untrained person uses water in some fires it could result in injury or further destruction to your home. The same is also true for many classes of fire extinguishers. So before you install your own extinguisher(s) in your home be sure you know their capabilities.
There are three different classes of extinguishers that a homeowner needs to be aware of when purchasing. All of these extinguishers are labeled clearly and most of the new ones are labeled graphically.
“Class A” fire extinguishers can be used on ordinary combustibles such as wood or paper. One might use a “Class A” extinguisher to put out a campfire or perhaps a mulch fire. This type of extinguisher might not be as successful on a stove fire that is being propelled by electricity or gas. A “Class A” extinguisher is labeled with a Green Triangle outlining an “A”.
A “Class B” extinguisher is suitable for putting out flammable liquid fires such as gasoline, grease, oil, etc. A “Class B” extinguisher is labeled with a red square and a “B” inside of it.
The final type of extinguisher that would concern a homeowner would be the “Class C” extinguisher. This class extinguisher is suitable for electrically energized fires. “Class C” extinguishers can be identified with a blue circle and a “C” on the inside of it.
All of these different classes of extinguishers can be easily confused to untrained persons. Today, however, many fire extinguishers can be purchased with all three ratings. When you purchase your extinguisher be sure that it is rated for all three types of fire, by taking time to see if it has all three of the fire rating images on it. Furthermore, most fire extinguishers sold presently can be re-filled. If your fire extinguisher needs re-filled, there are several companies out there that can refill them.
In order to quickly attack a small fire by yourself it is important that a homeowner strategically places the extinguisher in places around the home that can be reached in a split second. The NFPA recommends that all households have at least one or perhaps two extinguishers. The kitchen and garage would be suitable places for your extinguisher, and pending on the layout of your house an extinguisher on each floor would allow for much quicker reaction time.
It is important that extinguishers are kept high on a wall, near an exit and away from heat sources. Heat could possibly make the extinguisher less dependable in the time of emergency as well as cause it to lose its charge earlier. Furthermore, you should annually check the charge of the extinguisher in order to avoid malfunction in emergencies, also to make sure that it is not corroded in any way. If your fire extinguisher is corroded, be sure to replace it or have it professionally serviced immediately. It is also important that they are always kept away from children’s curious hands, only adults should use them.
Using a fire extinguisher is not complex, but in an emergency there is no time to read directions, so to avoid panic, make sure that you are familiar with your extinguisher as well as the method of attacking a fire. At the time of purchase, the vendor should be able to offer sufficient direction. But if you are still unsure about its use please don’t hesitate to come to the fire department for further instruction, any member of the fire department would be more than happy to answer your questions.
In the event that you should be forced to use your extinguisher and you are confident that you can sufficiently knock down the fire with the extinguisher, remember P.A.S.S. This is a method with only four simple steps:
- P– pull the pin on top of the fire extinguisher that keeps the handle from being accidentally pressed.
- A– aim the nozzle toward the base of the fire.
- S– squeeze the handle to discharge the contents of the extinguisher, while standing a safe distance of around 8 feet away.
- S– sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire.
Make sure that you immediately call the fire department, or have another person call, to make sure that the fire has been safely extinguished. Be aware that fires often re-ignite and that you should not just assume that it’s out. Make sure to stand at the ready with the extinguisher while waiting for the fire department to respond. If at any time you feel that the extinguisher cannot stop the blaze, drop it, get out of the home and wait for the fire department.
Fire extinguishers are a good way to attack small fires in the home, and they are simple enough to learn, as well as use for any adult. Remember that when purchasing an extinguisher for the home to make sure that it is rated for Class A, B, and C fires. Be sure that your extinguishers are quickly accessible, and in the unfortunate event of a fire, remember P.A.S.S. to successfully knock down the hazard. If these guidelines are followed, your own quick response to a small house fire could save the precious minutes that would otherwise be sacrificed by waiting for the fire department.