With proper training and education, fire extinguishers can save lives and property. Many adults might not know how or when to use fire extinguishers. Here is everything you need to know!

When to use a fire extinguisher

  • Have I alerted others in the building that there’s a fire?
  • Has someone called the fire department?
  • Am I physically able to use a fire extinguisher?
  • Is the fire small and contained in a single object (like a pan or a wastebasket)?
  • Am I safe from the fire’s toxic smoke?
  • Do I have a clear escape route?
  • Use a fire extinguisher when all of these questions are answered “yes.” If you’re unsure about whether or not it’s safe to use a fire extinguisher, and for all other situations, alert others, leave the building, and call 911 from a mobile or neighbor’s phone.

Source: U.S. Fire Administration

How to use a fire extinguisher

When operating a fire extinguisher, remember the word 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.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

 Remember to check fire extinguishers for:

Easy access in an emergency: be sure nothing is blocking or limiting your ability to reach it.

The recommended pressure level: many extinguishers have gauges that show when pressure is too high or too low.

Working parts: make sure the can, hoses and nozzles aren’t damaged, dented, or rusted.

Cleanliness: remove any dust, oil, or grease that might be on the outside of the extinguisher.

Guidelines and instructions: some extinguishers need to be shaken monthly, others need to be pressure tested every few years.

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Types of Fire Extinguishers

There are five primary types of fire extinguishers, each designed to put out different kinds of fires.

For use with ordinary materials like cloth, wood and paper. Found in homes and businesses.
For use with combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil and oil-based paints. Found in home and businesses.
For use with electrical equipment like appliances, tools, or other equipment that is plugged in. Often found in homes and businesses.
For use with flammable metals. Often found in factories.
For use with vegetable oils, animal oils and fats in cooking appliances. Often found in commercial kitchens.

Source for Content: United States Fire Administration