How to Properly Use a Fire Extinguisher

It’s likely you have a fire extinguisher in your home in case of an emergency, but do you know how to properly use it? You may think you are prepared to fight the flames inside your home, but simply buying a fire extinguisher isn’t enough. It’s important to know how to properly use a fire extinguisher. This knowledge may also come in handy if a fire breaks out unexpectedly in your workplace as well. You should only attempt to put out a fire using a fire extinguisher if the fire is confined to a small area and not growing. If the fire has already developed and is spreading, evacuate the building and call 911.

When a Fire Starts…

If you smell smoke or see flames starting to erupt and you are in a public place, sound the fire alarm. If you are at home, it’s likely the alarm will have already gone off. It’s crucial to identify an escape route and call the fire department before deciding to try to put the fire out yourself. If the heat, smoke or flames begin to cut off your escape route even in the slightest, it’s best you exit immediately. If your escape route is still clear, you can use the nearest fire extinguisher to try and contain the fire.

The P.A.S.S. Technique

To operate a fire extinguisher, utilize the P.A.S.S. technique. This simple technique makes it easy to activate your fire extinguisher for your home in high-pressure situations. The ‘P’ in P.A.S.S. stands for “pull.” Pull the pin to get started, and the tamper seal will break in response. The ‘A’ stands for “aim.” When you are aiming to put the fire out, make sure you point the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. Be careful not to touch the plastic discharge horn if you’re using a CO2 extinguisher as well; it gets cold and could damage your skin. The first ‘S’ stands for “squeeze.” Squeeze the handle to release the agent that puts the fire out. Finally, the last ‘S’ stands for sweep. In a sweeping motion, move the extinguisher side to side at the base of the fire until it is out. Repeat steps 2-4 until the fire is out. Pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.

When in Doubt, Evacuate!

First Alert understands how quickly fires can spread and using a fire extinguisher for your home can be scary. If you have the slightest hesitation or doubt about putting the fire out on your own, evacuate immediately!