Keep Your Fire Protection Equipment in Top Condition

Keep Your Fire Protection Equipment in Top Condition

Midwest Security of Owensboro, Henderson, KY & Evansville, IN offers Fire extinguishers

Safety Tip 1: Assess the Fire

Typical household fire extinguishers work best on small, contained fires - ones that aren't gaining in intensity. If it's in an area that's quickly filling with smoke, you may not have enough time to find the fire extinguisher and get it working before you're out of breathable air.

You'll also want to know if your specific extinguisher can handle the type of fire you're facing. Again, we're talking about small fires.

Safety Tip 2: Know Your Extinguisher

There are five types of fire extinguishers, and you'll often see their classes labeled somewhere on the canister. Look for the letters and symbols that describe which kinds of fires they're designed to put out:

A: Ordinary materials such as wood, paper, and textiles
B: Flammable liquids such as gasoline, grease, oil, and oil-based paint
C: Electrical equipment such as appliances, circuitry, and power tools
D: Flammable metals such as magnesium, lithium, and aluminum
K: Cooking oils such as animal fats and vegetable oils

Most homes have what are often called multipurpose ABC extinguishers that are great for most situations.

Your class of extinguisher matters. Blasting an ABC extinguisher on a fire that calls for a class D extinguisher can have disastrous effects. Some extinguishers can spread flames rather than suppress them, such as using a class A extinguisher on cooking oil fires because they're water-based.

Class K extinguishers blast flaming oils with a foam that quickly cuts off the fire's oxygen supply and keeps the oil contained so it can't splash out. That's why commercial kitchens typically have class K and ABC extinguishers on hand.

If you plan to do a lot of deep-frying, consider having that combo as well.

FYI: According to the National Fire Protection Agency, fire departments in the U.S. respond to nearly 1,000 fires caused by holiday decorations and Christmas trees each year. ABC extinguishers can handle those types of fires if they're small.

Safety Tip 3: Know Your Exits

You don't want to get into a situation where the fire extinguisher you have on hand won't cut it and you're trapped in a smoke-filled room. While you're reaching for the extinguisher, quickly assess any exits near you so you can get out immediately if things go south.
If it's your own home, you'll most likely have a good idea how to get out, but it's something to always keep in mind when a fire breaks out.

Remember to PASS

The PASS acronym is one of the easiest and most popular acronyms that can help you remember how to operate a fire extinguisher. Most fire and safety training professionals teach it specifically because of how simple it is.

Once you've assessed the fire in front of you and decided it's something your extinguisher can safely suppress, position yourself roughly 6 to 8 feet away from the fire and keep your back to the exit you've identified.


P: Pull the Pin

Keeping the nozzle pointed away from you, pull the extinguisher's pin. That typically involves twisting its locking mechanism and removing the pin from the canister.

FYI: Fire extinguishers have safety mechanisms such as zip ties to indicate that the extinguisher hasn't been used before and to prevent accidental discharge. Most ties break easily with a twist or yank. It's also a good idea not to cut them beforehand, especially if you have small children at home, since they keep the extinguisher childproofed.

A: Aim

Point the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire and aim low so you'll blast the source.

S: Squeeze

With your dominant hand, squeeze the extinguisher's handle slowly and evenly so you maintain complete control.

S: Sweep

Blast the base of the fire by sweeping the nozzle from side to side.

After the Fire Is Out
Sometimes fires can look like they're dead only to come sparking back to life like some horror movie monster.

Once the fire looks like it's out, keep an eye on it until you know for sure it is.

If the air in the room is painful to breathe, don't stick around. Open some windows, get out, and call emergency services if you need them. Smoke inhalation can cause serious damage to your lungs. Your health and safety are more important than your kitchen or home.

FYI: Multipurpose ABC extinguishers release a fine, yellow powder called monoammonium phosphate to suppress flames. Many B and C extinguishers emit sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

Inhaling the emissions from an ABC extinguisher can make your nose, throat, and lungs burn, as well as cause shortness of breath, dizziness, and coughing. Fresh air and a hot shower can help relieve most of the discomfort.

The powder can also irritate your skin, and a hot shower will help with that as well. If you've blasted a fire with an extinguisher and you're feeling any of those symptoms, get outside as soon as you can - and don't hesitate to seek medical help if needed.