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Do you know what type of fire extinguisher to buy? Here are some tips

Fire extinguishers can be a useful tool to help save property and lives, but only when used...
Fire extinguishers can be a useful tool to help save property and lives, but only when used properly. (Source: stock image/Pexels)(Pexels)
Published: Dec. 18, 2019 at 11:55 AM CST
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(KFVS) - At a time of year when many people are cooking, putting up Christmas decorations and using fireplaces or wood stoves for heat, the National Fire Protection Association offers tips on choosing and using a fire extinguisher.

Fire extinguishers can be a useful tool to help save property and lives, but only when used properly.

First, know the five different types of fire extinguishers to put out different kinds of fires:

  • Type A puts out fires involving ordinary materials like cloth, wood and paper.
  • Type B is for use with combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil and oil-based paints.
  • Type C is for when dealing with electrical equipment like appliances, tools, or other equipment that is plugged in.
  • Type D is used for flammable metals.
  • Type K is for use with vegetable oils, animal oils and fats in cooking appliances.

A good choice is an extinguisher labeled “A-B-C” and covers all the first three of the types of situations.

Next, know when to use a fire extinguisher. The NFPA suggests the following checklist:

  • 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.

It is not recommended that children use fire extinguishers.

When using a fire extinguisher, the NFPA has a quick acronym to help you remember how to use the extinguisher effectively. Just think “PASS.” That stands for: Pull the pin; Aim low (at the base of the fire); Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly; and Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

And finally, keep your extinguisher in good working order. Make sure nothing is blocking or limiting your ability to reach it. If there’s a pressure gauge on the extinguisher, check periodically to see if it’s at the proper level. Make sure the can, hoses and nozzles aren’t damaged, dented, or rusted. Remove any dust, oil, or grease that might be on the outside of the extinguisher. Check manufacturer guidelines and instructions. Some extinguishers need to be shaken monthly, others need to be pressure tested every few years.

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