Reaching for an extinguisher may seem natural during a fire, but there can be negative consequences if you don’t know what you are doing.
Vernon Fire Department officials indicate that many people aren’t familiar with extinguishers and by doing so, they may injure themselves, unintentionally spread the fire or get trapped in a bad situation.
“Rather than assume everything will work out if an emergency ever does happen, take the time to get familiar with the fire extinguishers you might have to use in an emergency,” said Lawrie Skolrood, deputy fire chief.
“Know where they are and how to use them. Become confident in when and how to use them. Take a course and actually try using one.”
Here are some tips that might be helpful:
1. As soon as you discover a fire, sound the alarm and start to evacuate. Call the fire department. Even if you feel you can bring the fire under control with a fire extinguisher these are important first steps to insure everyone’s safety and that help is on the way.
2. To be on the safe side, test the extinguisher before you approach the fire to determine that it works.
3. Always protect yourself and leave the building immediately if the fire is progressing too quickly!
4. Keep your back to the exit at all times.
5. Approach the fire and stand two to four metres from the fire.
6. Take care. Although speed is important, it is even more important to be cautious.
7. Utilize the four-step procedure known as PASS
a. P- pull the pin (release the lock or press the punch lever)
b. A-aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
c. S-squeeze or press the trigger
d. S-sweep the extinguisher from side to side
8. If the extinguisher is starting to get empty and the fire does not appear to be going out, leave the area immediately.
“Fire extinguishers can be extremely effective in stopping small fires from becoming big fires and for preventing more damage before the fire department arrives,” said Skolrood.
“However, this should only be considered if it can be done safely. Specifically, you need to be confident in how to use a fire extinguisher properly. Most importantly, you need to know when it is time to fight and when it is time to leave. If you have any doubts, it is not worth the risk, get out of the area and leave the firefighting to the fire department.”