fire-extinguisherLifeline Fire and Security is a leading provider of residential alarm systems in Hawaii, and one of the most common issues it faces is home fires. Throughout the United States, home fires are among the leading causes of residential injury and death. Perhaps, the greatest challenge that fire and security companies face is the lack of awareness about the use of fire extinguishers in the home.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Everyone in the home should have experience using a fire extinguisher before the need arises. When it’s time to use it, take the fire extinguisher from its mount and use the PASS system.

P—Pull the trigger
A—Aim at the base of the fire
S—Squeeze the lever slowly
S—Sweep from side to side

Once the fire is out, continue to watch it for a while to make sure the embers do not reignite.

When to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Before using a fire extinguisher, have everyone else leave the room and quickly assess the fire. Generally, you only want to use a fire extinguisher when the fire is in a small area, is no longer expanding and can be extinguished in 10 seconds. If the fire is expanding or the room is filling with smoke, forget the fire extinguisher and evacuate the area immediately.

Calling the Fire Department

It’s very important that you call the fire department first. Ideally, there is a second person available who can call while you use the fire extinguisher. In the end, the call to the fire department may be unnecessary, but they’d prefer you call them prematurely rather than too late. It also allows them to inspect the area and ensure that the fire is totally out.

Choosing Fire Extinguishers for the Home

Feel free to call your local fire department for advice, but those who specialize in fire and security systems generally recommend an ABC-rated fire extinguisher. A indicates usage for combustible materials. B indicates usage for flammable liquids, such as grease. C indicates suitability for energized appliances, such as that plugged-in toaster or microwave. When purchasing, be sure to note the expiration date.

Placing Fire Extinguishers in the Home

Specialists in fire and security systems generally recommend that you have a fire extinguisher at the hot spots, which include the kitchen, garage and near fireplaces. It’s also a good idea to have one fire extinguisher on each level of the home, so if a particular floor doesn’t have a hot spot, simply choose a convenient location.

Maintaining Your Fire Extinguisher

Ideally, you should inspect your fire extinguishers on a monthly basis. It’s worth noting that most fire departments and providers of alarm systems in Hawaii, and around the country, will provide this service for you if you’re uncertain about it. Check the expiration date. Verify that the pressure level is optimal. Check that the nozzle, pin and tamper seal are all in ideal condition. If the fire extinguisher fails any of these checks, then take it in for service.

Todd Bedford
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