How to Properly Use a Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers. You pass them all the time as you walk the hallways at work or school, and hopefully at home too.
But no matter how many times you’ve seen them in your day-to-day life, you’ve probably given little thought as to how you actually use one. Maybe it never crossed your mind, or maybe you assume it’s so simple it’s not something you need to learn.
Well, it’s true that using a fire extinguisher isn’t rocket science by any stretch, but there are a few basics you need to be aware of – and probably aren’t. According to FEMA, the majority of Americans don’t know how to use an extinguisher, even if they have one in their home. This is a dangerous knowledge gap. Fires double in size every 60 seconds, so you don’t want to be fumbling around in an emergency situation, reading over the instruction manual as a small flame on the stove grows into an inferno.
Most fire extinguishers operate using the following P.A.S.S. technique:
- PULL... Pull the pin. This will also break the tamper seal.
- AIM... Aim low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
NOTE: Do not touch the plastic discharge horn on CO2 extinguishers, it gets very cold and may damage skin.
- SQUEEZE... Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
- SWEEP... Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat steps 2 - 4.
If you have the slightest doubt about your ability to fight a fire....EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!