How to Operate a Home Fire Extinguisher Safely

Posted on: 4 December 2015

Fire extinguishers in your home can help prevent a fire from spreading and save your and your family's lives—but only if you know how to operate it properly and safely. Take some time and familiarize yourself with the extinguisher. Read the operating manual and review it on a regular basis; this way, if an emergency arises, you'll be ready to act quickly. Here are some tips for handling a fire extinguisher properly.

Basic Operating Instructions

There are several different types of mobile extinguishers, and they all come with their own unique set of labelling tags and colour codes. Always make sure that the type of extinguisher you use is suitable for the type of fire you want to put out. For example, you would never use a water extinguisher to extinguish an electrical fire.

Experts recommend following the "PASS" method of operation.

  • Pull—pull the pin located at the top of the unit. This breaks the seal and makes it ready for use.
  • Aim—Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire from a safe distance.
  • Squeeze—Squeeze the handles together to release the extinguishing agent inside. Releasing the handles will stop the spray.
  • Sweep—Sweep the unit from side to size at the base of the fire until it is completely extinguished. Check for hot spots that may reignite.

Make Sure Everyone Knows How to Use it

Make sure that everyone in your household understands how to operate your fire extinguishers. Even young children can be taught how to use them safely. Review emergency procedures on a regular basis so everyone is aware of what is expected of them.

Have an Escape plan

Decide on a meeting place in case of an emergency and review floor plans/escape routes on a regular basis. Doing this one simple thing can mean the difference between life and death. Ladders, ropes, etc., can be used to get out of second-storey windows.

Maintain and Inspect Extinguishers Regularly

Every few months, check your extinguishers to make sure that the pins and seals are still in place. Always keep the extinguishers in the same place so everyone in the house knows where to find them if needed. Never use them if you feel you or your family are in danger; when it doubt, get out and call the fire brigade for help.

Having fire extinguishers in your home is a good safety measure to protect against fire; knowing how to use them safely could save your life.