Of course we all would hope our homes would never be consumed by fire, but it can, and does, happen. Most house fires are preventable by following some very basic rules. I think we’d all agree things like; never leaving an open flame unattended, overloading electrical circuits, continuing to use faulty appliances, misplacement of portable heaters, and not storing flammable materials in inappropriate places are just common sense. But what if you do experience a fire? Are you prepared? Is your family prepared?
Most fires will most likely start out small, and often can be easily extinguished if dealt with quickly. Having swift access to a working fire extinguisher is a very important part of your home’s overall emergency plan.
Here are some simple rules to remember and put into action. Following just these few tips could potentially save your family, your home and all its treasured, irreplaceable contents:
- Install a fire extinguisher, at a minimum, in your kitchen, garage, and basement. You could consider keeping one in your car as well. I know in some areas in the US when you renovate your home, an extinguisher is now required in the kitchen, and I don’t mean under the sink or in a closet, it must be visible and accessible. (You can do a little research to find a better looking version than the traditional red). I have to say though, be sure that if your fire extinguisher is “unusual” looking, that you point it out to babysitters etc. Otherwise, your house guests might think it’s a bottle of wine. In an emergency, you don’t want someone not recognizing this important life saving tool.
- Check the gauge on your fire extinguisher at least once a month. If the pressure is ever lower than what is in the acceptable range on the gauge, it must be recharged or disposed of and replaced. It’s also recommended when checking the gauge pressure, you also turn the extinguisher upside and shake it a few times. This helps dislodge any agent that may be coagulating or clumping.
- Do not test the extinguisher by pulling the pin and squeezing the trigger. Fire extinguishers are not meant to be ‘tested‘. Also, never attempt to re-use an extinguisher if it’s been previously discharged and not professionally recharged and re-certified.
- Know how to use your extinguisher before you need it. You won’t have time to read the instructions. When choosing an extinguisher, know in advance, the type of fire potential. For example, an ABC rated extinguisher is for use with (A) trash, wood, paper, (B) liquids, grease, and (C) electrical fires. Never use an extinguisher labeled “A” on a grease or electrical fire.
- Know this: fire extinguishers are rated according to force and quantity of extinguishing agent they contain. This, in turn, determines how much stopping power they have and how long they will perform. In many cases, you will only have 8-15 seconds of discharge time at a distance of 6-8 feet.
- Know how to properly extinguish a fire. Time is critical. Remember the acronym “PASS”, which stands for “Pull (pin) – Aim – Squeeze – Sweep”.