All dwellings should have least one fire extinguisher. Do you have the right fire extinguisher for your home? For the small fires that are in the early stages, having a fire extinguisher handy greatly increases your ability to take control and put out the fire. Remember that fires expand quickly so in the event of a fire, immediately evacuate your loved ones according to your home evacuation plan and contact 911 from a safe location.
There are four classes of fire, each with a corresponding designation on the label of every fire extinguisher. Be aware that some fire extinguishers can be used on more than one type of fire. Familiarizing yourself with the information contained on their labels can make all the difference. Attempting to use the wrong fire extinguisher can be more dangerous than the fire itself. The following classifications will help you better understand how to select the right fire extinguisher for each zone of your home and garage:
On the label, each class has a designated shape and color:
• Extinguishers designed to be used on Class A fires have a triangle containing the letter A that will be green, if colored.
• Extinguishers designed to be used on Class B fires have a square containing the letter B that will be red, if colored.
• Extinguishers designed to be used on Class C fires have a square containing the letter C that will be blue, if colored.
• Extinguishers designed to be used on Class D fires have a star containing the letter D that will be yellow, if colored.
In addition to the above classifications, all units will have a numerical designation. This number indicates the size of the fire each extinguisher is capable of controlling, if used properly. For example, a 4-A unit can extinguish twice the fire of a 2-A unit, and a 1-B unit has half the capacity of a 2-B unit. Higher numbers mean a larger capacity. Understanding fire extinguisher label information will enable you to select the right fire extinguisher and better protect your home and garage.
Having the right fire extinguisher is only half the battle. Understanding its proper use is equally essential to avoiding disaster. Recommended by the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA), P.A.S.S is a simple and widely-accepted procedural manner that explains how a fire extinguisher should be used to put out a fire.
• P – PULL the pin and break the tamper-evident seal.
• A – AIM the nozzle, hose, or horn low and to the base of the fire.
• S – SQUEEZE the handle and release the contents of the extinguisher.
• S – SWEEP from side to side at the base of the fire until it is out.
CAUTION! If you have the slightest doubt that you will be able to control the fire, evacuate right away.
Most fires begin by accident; however, determining the cause may not be easy before the fire is out and every second counts. Therefore, it is vital to be alert when making the decision to flee or fight. While no one is ever ready for a fire, having the right fire extinguisher and the confidence that comes with knowing how to use it will help you be as prepared as possible.
Photo credit: Dante Alighieri