Man services a fire extinguisher that's hanging on the wall
Monthly check-ups are necessary for maintaining a fire extinguisher.

House fires can erupt any time, but with the right tools and quick thinking, you can kill flames after they kindle.

Keep a fire extinguisher to put out small fires — it can save lives and prevent property damage. You need one near rooms that pose a high risk of danger.

Storing and Using Fire Extinguishers

“Most fire extinguishers in your home should be stored near your kitchen, because the number one cause of home fires is kitchen fire,” Firefighter Steven Millhouse says. “Not in the kitchen, but around it. If there is a fire in the kitchen, you want to be able to reach the extinguisher. Also, you’ll want to keep one near the dryer for ease of access.”

When using a fire extinguisher, practice proper technique: remember the acronym P.A.S.S.

“Pull the pin; aim at the base of the fire; squeeze; and sweep from left to right,” Millhouse says.

Know Your Fire Classes

Fire extinguishers come in many models to put out specific types of fires; it’s important to know the different classes.

“Most fire extinguishers are good for class A, B, C and D class fires,” Millhouse says.

“Class ‘A’ are standard combustible materials — things you would find in a trash can. B class are liquid-type fires. C class fires are electrical fires. Class D are combustible metals that you don’t see that often, but you can use a fire extinguisher.”

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

Don’t forget to maintain your fire extinguisher — otherwise, you could be left unprotected.

“Most fire extinguishers should be serviced annually — they are good for one year, unless you have the aerosol can style, which are good for five years,” Millhouse says. “You should check them monthly. Turn them upside down to check the solution and check the gauges to make sure they are a good fire extinguisher.”

If you do need to have one serviced, just pick up the phone.

“There are multiple ways to do it — you can contact a local fire extinguisher company,” Millhouse says. “Review the manufacturer’s details — that way you can find one in your area.”

Life Over Property

Finally: If a fire doesn’t quickly die, or if you feel at risk in any way, leave your home. Your life is more important than your property. Property damage can always be covered with the right homeowners insurance coverage.

In other words, leave it to your local fire department, which has the right gear to control the flames and prevent further damage.

“The fire may be too big for the fire extinguisher can handle,” Millhouse says. “[For] some fires, [you] just need to get out of the home and call 9-1-1 to allow the professionals to handle.”  

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