A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives, but portable extinguishers have limitations.
Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents is to get out safely.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends that portable fire extinguishers should only be used by adults who know how to operate them.
Use a fire extinguisher only if:
• The fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing
• Everyone is exiting the building and someone has called or is calling 9-1-1
• The room is not filled with smoke
• You have a means of escape identified & the fire is not between you & the escape route
• You have the proper extinguisher for the fire (Not all fire extinguishers are used for the same purpose. For the home, you should select a multi-purpose extinguisher that can be used on several types of fire, such as those extinguishers labeled ‘A-B-C.’ It should be large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy that it is difficult to handle.
Additional fire extinguisher safety tips:
• To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:
• 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.
• Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of a recognized independent testing laboratory.
• Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts, operation, and maintenance. Local fire departments often offer hands-on fire extinguisher trainings.
• If the fire does not go out after using one extinguisher, get out.
• Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.