A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the Fire Department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number 1 priority for residents is to get out safely.
Use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing; everyone has exited the building; the Fire Department has been called or is being called; and the room is not filled with smoke.
To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS: Extinguisher PASS
Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher (can be used on all types of home fires) that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle. This type of extinguisher will be a dry chemical agent with an A-B-C classification.
Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory. (UL)
Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out. Fire equipment distributors often offer hands-on fire extinguisher training.
Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.
When Purchasing a Fire Extinguisher
While you are looking at the different options of fire extinguishers keep these things in mind:
Think about the area or hazard you are protecting. The size and type of extinguisher should be selected for the hazard.
A multi-purpose, ABC, extinguisher is designed for use on common household hazards.
The small, 2 1/2 pound, extinguisher found in most hardware stores and extinguisher retail stores may not be adequate for home protection and is better suited for vehicle protection.
Many stores also have a 5 pound extinguisher. A 5 pound extinguisher will offer greater protection.