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PASS the Fire Extinguisher, Please

Randy DeVaul

Posted on March 6, 2020 20:49

1 user

Mounting a fire extinguisher in your kitchen is a great idea; knowing how to access and use it is fabulous! Watch out for these watch-outs to keep you and your family safe at home.

OK, you finally decided to purchase that kitchen fire extinguisher and you've even taken it out of the box. This leads to the question which must be asked: "Do you have any idea what to do with it now that you have it?"

First, you need to securely mount the extinguisher in a location that is easy to get to, and which will not become another coat rack. The whole point of the extinguisher is to ensure that you can easily retrieve it if you catch something on fire — like, say, supper. 

Hanging clothing or other sundry items from it is not a good working plan. The point of mounting it is to keep from kicking it between the stove and refrigerator, or to watch it fall off the countertop just in time to see the valve break from the cylinder, which is now going through your sheetrock like a torpedo.

Now that you know where the extinguisher is and how to get to it, you need to know how to actually use it. You know, in case something actually catches on fire — like, say, supper. Kitchen fires are not fun, though they can be quite exciting. If you are unable to extinguish it and it gets bigger — very quickly — it gets even more exciting. Let me re-visit mounting the extinguisher again. Do NOT mount it at the backsplash of the stove where you must reach over what is burning to access it.

Remember that the whole point of an extinguisher has to do with your personal safety. Fire extinguishers are intended to extinguish what professionals call 'incipient fires' — those that look scary but are still small enough to put out before spreading to the other parts of the house. Owning a fire extinguisher does not make you a professional fire fighter, so don’t try to be one. If a fire begins to spread, get out and call 9-1-1.

If you can access your new extinguisher while the fire is still 'incipient,' remember it is only a 2-pound unit, meaning it is not designed for 20 minutes of dousing. You only have about 30 seconds of spray time. You will have to use it correctly to gain any benefit from it before it runs out of extinguishing agent.

One way to remember how to use an extinguisher is with the acronym, 'PASS.' This stands for 'P' — Pull the pin; 'A' — Aim the nozzle at the base of the flame; 'S' — Squeeze the trigger/handle; 'S' — Sweep the extinguisher from side to side slowly.

Even if you successfully put the fire out, call 9-1-1 anyway, so that the fire department can check it out. You don't want something smoldering that can re-catch, and you want to ensure other items, such as electrical wiring, were not damaged from the fire.

If you can PASS the fire extinguisher, you just may save your house — and your family — from supper.

Randy DeVaul

Posted on March 6, 2020 20:49

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