While you certainly hope that you never have to use a fire extinguisher, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. This way, you won’t waste crucial seconds fooling around with the extinguisher that could have otherwise been spent fighting the fire.
Some advance preparation might mean the difference between a minor fire in a localized area and a potentially catastrophic blaze that engulfs your whole home or business. Learning how to use a fire extinguisher might be inconvenient now, but you, the people around you, and your belongings will be much safer for it.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Before you try to be the hero, don’t forget about your personal safety and be realistic about your chances of putting out a fire. If a fire has engulfed an entire room, you probably won’t be able to stop it. If the fire is local to an appliance, for example, then you’ll have a better chance of preventing further damage.
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the location of the fire extinguisher. It may be wonderful to know how to work an extinguisher, but this is pointless if you don’t know where it is.
If you are at a school, office, gym, or another complex of some sort, look around the building to find the fire extinguisher. If you cannot locate it, ask the person in charge where it is.
If you are at home and have purchased a fire extinguisher yourself, place one in the kitchen. You should also purchase fire extinguishers for other fire-prone areas, such as the garage, a shed, or grilling areas.
Step 2: Be aware of all exits. Before you start using the extinguisher, be aware of any and all exits and don’t lose sight of them in case you need to escape in a hurry.
Step 3: Bypass any protective coverings around the extinguisher. In some cases, you may have to access the fire extinguisher through a protective covering.
Either open the cover or break through it. Again, you’ll want to be familiar with the fire extinguisher and its coverings before a crisis begins.
Step 4: Pull the pin. Once you have the fire extinguisher in your hands, pull the pin near the trigger on the handle.
This is a safety mechanism that prevents the accidental discharge of the fire extinguisher. Once the pin is pulled, the unit is ready for use.
Step 5: Aim the nozzle. The nozzle is what deploys the extinguishing agent, so point it in the proper direction at all times.
You should aim the nozzle at the base of the fire and not at the top of the flames. This will make fighting the fire much more effective.
Step 6: Pull the trigger or lever. Use the trigger to activate the fire extinguisher and continue pointing the nozzle at the flames.
Move the fire extinguisher’s nozzle in a back-and-forth motion to maximize its effectiveness. Don’t waste any of the chemical agent as you only have a few seconds to spray it before it runs out.
Step 7: Escape if needed. If your attempt to put out the fire is not successful, then you should leave as quickly as possible.
Don’t try to find other ways to put out the fire if it is growing larger; wait for the professionals to deal with the situation.
A fire extinguisher is a great tool to have. Knowing how to use it properly will ensure that you are prepared in the event that a fire breaks out, and you can hopefully keep minor damage from turning into a major disaster.