To use a fire extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS, which stands for “pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep.”
Make sure the fire extinguisher is upright, then:
Pull the pin from the handle.
Aim the nozzle low, while keeping the extinguisher upright.
Squeeze the handle to release the fire-fighting chemicals. When you can see the fire is being put out, move in toward the fire, keeping your aim at the base of the flame.
Sweep the extinguisher from side to side until the fire is out.
Fire-safety experts also recommend you follow these tips to maximize your fire extinguisher’s effectiveness:
- Choose the right fire extinguisher. A dry chemical ABC, size 2-A: 10-B: C is often considered the best all-around home fire extinguisher. The ABC means you could fight common household fires (combustibles, grease, electrical), and the numbers tell how much extinguishing agent the bottle contains for each type of fire (C doesn’t list a number). The bigger the number, the more fire you can put out, but it also means the extinguisher is heavier and harder to handle.
- Keep it handy. Hang fire extinguishers in the kitchen and garage, but never near the stove (if a fire breaks out at the stove, you’ll need to grab your extinguisher from elsewhere). Most home fire extinguishers have a short range of 6 to 10 feet and discharge in about 10 seconds.
- Your safety comes first. If the fire is bigger than you are, it’s too big to put out with a fire extinguisher. Even if it’s small, give up, get out, and call the fire department if it doesn’t diminish immediately when you hit it with the spray. If you do put out the fire yourself, keep an eye on the area for flare-ups.
- Replace or refill your fire extinguisher once it’s been discharged, e ven if you used onl y a little.