It’s quite possible that you have a home fire extinguisher, or you have one at your office or in your car. It is also quite possible that you have no idea how to use it, when to use it, or where to use it. In truth, a home fire extinguisher is simple to use and can help in a variety of situations, from common kitchen fires to clearing pathways during a more serious emergency.
So let’s begin with how to choose a home fire extinguisher. Since you cannot predict the type of fire that may take place in your home, you will naturally want an extinguisher that can handle a variety of situations. Also known as a portable fire extinguisher, a home fire extinguisher is often a homeowner’s best bet. The ABCD rating system refers to a set of ratings given to different classes of extinguishers, including a home fire extinguisher. Here is a rundown:
The ABCD Rating System
A – Indicates the extinguisher is rated to handle general combustible fires like paper, wood or cloth. A portable fire extinguisher with only an ‘A’ rating most likely uses water to put out fires.
B – Designed to put out fires produced by flammable liquids like grease, oil and gasoline.
C – Signifies the extinguisher can handle electrical fires triggered by factors like fuse boxes, wires and electrical equipment, by using a non-conductive agent to douse the fire.
D – Capable of putting out fires from combustible metals like sodium and magnesium.
If you’re looking into purchasing a portable fire extinguisher, ensure it is multipurpose dry chemical with an ABC label. And like the name implies, this extinguisher is relatively small, so it can easily be moved from room to room if necessary. While a home fire extinguisher is too small to put out large fires, it carries enough agent to take care of a typical grease fire or provide a much needed escape route in a larger emergency.
There are no government regulations on the number of home fire extinguishers that should be in a home, but the general rule of thumb is to have one in the kitchen area and another in the garage. Some people feel safer by having one on every floor of their home. Since fires are not limited to the home, automobile extinguishers are available as well. This could be an important safety device for anyone with a motor home or someone who wishes to have the added security while driving.
Before purchasing a home fire extinguisher, you need to make a commitment to learn how to properly use it. While easy to use, fire extinguishers are filled with a pressurized substance, likely dry chemical in the case of a home fire extinguisher, which can cause damage or injury if released incorrectly.
If training yourself on the use of a home fire extinguisher, use the acronym PASS to keep yourself safe:
P – Pull the pin on the extinguisher
A – Aim the nozzle at the bottom of the fire (not doing so could spread the flames further or worse)
S – Squeeze the handle on the extinguisher
S – Sweep the nozzle back and forth while continuing to aim it at the bottom of the fire…