A fire extinguisher is a vital piece of equipment for any household. Keep reading this post by Archer Cleaning & Restoration Services in Minneapolis for tips on how to use a fire extinguisher effectively.

Having a fire extinguisher in your home is critical to your and your family's safety. After all, you never know when an overloaded outlet or an unattended pan in the kitchen could start a flame. With that in mind, this post will share a comprehensive guide on how to use a fire extinguisher in the home. If you are interested in learning about fire extinguisher safety, read on!

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What Kind of Fire Extinguisher Should You Get?

Fires can have different causes and therefore require different extinguishing methods. That said, below are the five main classes of fire extinguishers (A, B, C, D, and K):
  • Class A: These extinguishers put out fires that involve paper, wood, cloth, or plastic. They are typically filled with water, foam, or both.
  • Class B: These serve to put out fires that involve flammable fluids and gases, such as oil, gasoline, and propane. They are filled with CO2, halon, and dry chemical powder agents.
  • Class C: These put out fires that involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, motors, and wiring. They are filled with non-conductive agents, such as CO2, halon, and dry chemical powder.
  • Class D: These are used to put out fires that involve flammable metals, such as magnesium, titanium, and potassium. They are filled with specialized powders that smother the fire and prevent it from re-igniting.
  • Class K: These are used to put out fires that involve cooking oils and fats, such as those found in commercial kitchens. They are filled with a wet chemical agent that cools the fire and creates a barrier between the fuel and oxygen.
As you can see, each class of extinguisher is intended for a specific type of fire. With that in mind, place the right extinguisher in every area of your home. For example, you can keep a Class K fire extinguisher in the kitchen, a Class B in the backyard, and so on.

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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher can be life-saving in an emergency. Remember, a fire can start unexpectedly and spread quickly. In such a case, the best thing you can do is to prevent the small fire from getting bigger and more dangerous. To that end, here are the steps to use a fire extinguisher correctly:
  1. Keep a safe distance from the flames: Stand six to eight feet away from the fire as you prepare to operate the fire extinguisher.
  2. Pull the pin: Located at the top of the extinguisher, pulling the pin will break the tamper seal and allow you to use the device.
  3. Aim the nozzle: Point the nozzle towards the base of the fire.
  4. Squeeze the handle: Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
  5. Sweep the nozzle: Sweep the nozzle back and forth to cover the entire fire area.
  6. Evacuate if necessary: If the fire extinguisher is insufficient to contain a fire, evacuate the area immediately and call 911.

Keep Your Fire Extinguisher Maintained

Having a fire extinguisher on every level of your home is crucial, but not enough. Each device needs to be serviced from time to time to ensure it will work effectively in case of a fire. Here are the steps to provide a fire extinguisher with proper maintenance:
  • Visual inspection: Regularly inspect the fire extinguisher for visible signs of damage or tampering, such as dents, corrosion, or a missing seal.
  • Pressure check: Ensure that the pressure gauge sits in the green zone, indicating that the extinguisher is well charged. The extinguisher must be recharged or replaced if the indicator is in the red area.
  • Operating instructions: Ensure the instructions are legible and posted near the fire extinguisher.
  • Service intervals: Follow the manufacturer's recommended service intervals, typically every twelve years for a fire extinguisher or six years for the fire extinguisher's cylinder, whichever comes first.
  • Professional maintenance: Have a certified fire protection professional perform an annual inspection and maintenance of the fire extinguisher.

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