Janna Kelley OSU Extension Educator
Safety is always on the mind of a homeowner. One important safety tool to have in your home is a fire extinguisher.
Fire extinguishers are a critical component of saving property and lives. In the event of a small fire in your home, a fire extinguisher can make the difference between saving your home or the home sustaining a lot of damage. However, homeowners should only try to put out small fires. It’s too dangerous to try to fight a bigger fire with a fire extinguisher designed for home use. Fire extinguishers aren’t designed to fight large fires and they aren’t a substitute for calling the fire department.
Most hardware and discount stores sell fire extinguishers. They are categorized using an A, B, C or D letter rating system. A good choice for the home is a multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher. Class A is for ordinary combustibles such as paper and wood; Class B is used for grease and liquid; Class C is used for electrical fires; and Class D is for flammable metals.
Fire extinguishers are useful only if they can be found and used quickly and while the fire is still small. Store the extinguisher in a highly visible area.
It won’t do you any good if the extinguisher is high up on a shelf or behind a bunch of stuff in your cabinet. Many home fires begin in the kitchen, around a fireplace or in the garage. Keep the extinguisher close to these areas.
In the event of a fire, get everyone out of the house first. When using a fire extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS. This stands for Pull the pin. Aim at the base of the fire. Squeeze the handle. Sweep back and forth.
Fires can smolder even if you think they are out. It is important to call the fire department to inspect your house after you have put out a fire.
Be sure to check your extinguisher every month to make sure the pressure gauge shows a full charge. Non-rechargeable units are good for about 12 years. Rechargeable ones should be serviced after six years.
Keep in mind that fires can spread quickly, so always give yourself an escape route. If you have any doubt in your ability to get the fire under control, leave your house immediately and call the fire department.