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While National Fire Prevention Week may have passed, the holidays are right around the corner, which is the most dangerous time of the year for house fires. We have more candles burning, increased cooking, and the use of space heaters, which can all pose serious fire risks if not monitored carefully. It’s important to be even more vigilant at this time of year and create an emergency evacuation plan for your family that you practice often.
But, how do you know when to try and extinguish a small fire and when to leave the premises? There is only a small window of opportunity to get your fire extinguisher operating as small fires can grow into large ones in a matter of seconds.
Your safety is most important when it comes to extinguishing a fire. If a fire starts, be sure to call 911 for help. If you are unsure about whether it is safe to fight the fire, you should leave the scene and let the fire department control the fire.
You should know exactly how to use a fire extinguisher in the event a fire develops and you feel you are safely able to fight it. It is recommended that only those trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate.
Call for help before attempting to extinguish a fire. A fire may grow out of control more quickly than you anticipate. It is wise to have help on the way.
Determine a safe evacuation path before approaching the fire. Do not allow the fire, heat or smoke to come between you and your evacuation path.
Attack the fire using the PASS method:
Pull the pin – by pulling the pin, the operating lever should unlock and allows you to discharge the extinguisher.
Aim low – point the extinguisher hose/nozzle at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever – this should discharge the extinguishing agent. Some extinguishers may have a button or other means of activation.
Sweep from side to side – while you are aiming at the base of the fire, you should sweep back and forth until the fire is extinguished. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.
Remember additional safeguards:
- Keep your back to an exit so that there is a viable means of retreating from the fire.
- Stand at least 8 feet from the fire and begin PASS.