Using an Extinguisher

Fire safety experts advise you to learn how to use an extinguisher before an emergency arises. Check with your fire department to see if they offer homeowner training. Keep extinguishers where you can see and reach them easily, near the room's exit. That way you can fight the fire with your back to the door and make a quick escape if flames get out of control.

To help you remember how to use an extinguisher, use the acronym PASS:


Pull the extinguisher's safety pin.

Aim the chemical at the source of the flames rather than at the flames themselves, standing at least 6 feet from the fire (or as directed on the extinguisher's label).

Squeeze the trigger and hold it, keeping the extinguisher upright.



Sweep the source of the flames until the extinguisher runs dry.

Whenever you have used an extinguisher, whether or not it is completely empty, you must replace it or refill it right away. Same goes with any extinguisher whose pressure gauge slips out of the green zone into red over time. Fire extinguisher companies charge about $15 to refill a typical 5-pound A:B:C extinguisher, provided it has a metal valve. Extinguishers with plastic valves are not refillable and should be discarded after use.
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