Fire Safety and using a Fire Extinguisher

As a volunteer firefighter, fire safety is very important to me. I also think that while all preparedness is is much more likely that you will face one or more fires in your life than an earthquake, tornado, terror attack or some of the other major disasters we often read about on preparedness sites. One of my sayings is "Preparing for Life's..What If's." A fire is something anyone of us can face regardless of where we live or work. Below are some tips in regards to both general fire safety and well as how to use a fire extinguisher. General Fire Safety in the Home:
  • Purchase and know how to use fire extinguishers. At a minimum have one on each floor of your home and one specifically designed for kitchen fires
  • Make and practice an evacuation plan with your family. Make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go. Make sure you all know at least 2 routes out of the home in case your primary route is blocked. Also practice evacuating blindfolded or with little light as if there is bad smoke, you probably won't be able to see that well
  • Pick an outside meeting place away from the house where you will all meet
  • If there is a fire in your home, even if you decide to try to put it out the fire department first. Fires grow quickly and you want to get help on the way in case you can't put it out or become trapped
  • Make sure you have smoke/carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home and near or inside every bedroom. Test them at least twice per year
  • Don't overload outlets and keep flameable items like drapes away from outlets in case they spark
  • Consider purchase fire escape ladders for bedrooms in case the fire is on the first floor and the stairs are blocked
  • Other items you can consider are fire blankets and smoke hoods
  • Clean out your dryer vent line as well as your chimney every year or so
How to use an Extinguisher:
  • Remember...before you attempt to use a fire the fire department first
  • If you feel it is safe enough to use the extinguisher to try to put out the fire, remember the acronym P.A.S.S. which stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.
  • Pull - pull the pin the top of the extinguisher
  • Aim - aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze - squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent
  • Sweep - sweep from side to side and the base of the fire
  • While using a fire extinguisher make sure you have an exit behind you in case the fire grows out of control
  • Make sure every family member practices using the extinguisher at least once. The first time you want to pull one out is NOT during a house fire.
  • Visit your local fire department. They can show you how to use and might let you practice in a controlled environment
These tips are by no means complete. There are other factors to consider. As always..if you have a tip, thought or idea please share it.   Until next safe.