5 On Your Side

Be prepared: Have an ABC fire extinguisher at home and know how to use it

Posted November 6, 2017 4:06 p.m. EST
Updated November 6, 2017 6:17 p.m. EST

— If you needed to, would you know how to use a fire extinguisher?

On Friday night, an overheated battery was the likely cause of a small fire in a second-floor storage room at the WRAL-TV studios. Earlier in the week, Kidde recalled nearly 40 million fire extinguishers that may not work properly.

Panic and adrenaline hit whenever there is a fire, so it is critical to have a properly working extinguisher around, according to Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports recommends an ABC fire extinguisher, which will extinguish three types of common fires - wood and paper, a class A, flammable liquids, a class B, and electrical fires, class C.

Having the right extinguisher is only one part of the equation, knowing how to use it is the other.

Consumer Reports says it is best to review the directions before the extinguisher becomes necessary.

Look at the pressure gauge to make sure the fire extinguisher is fully charged. Then follow the PASS method.

  • Pull the pin to break the seal
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire while standing about 8 feet from it
  • Squeeze the handle slowly and evenly
  • Sweep from side to side until fire is completely extinguished

It is best to keep a fire extinguisher no more than 10 feet from the kitchen, the laundry room and the garage. Mount the extinguisher in its bracket in a convenient location and in plain sight, about 3.5 to 5 feet above the ground to prevent damage to it and so it's out of the reach of small children.

Having fire extinguishers in the home can save lives.

"It can be any type of fire, it can be something in the garbage, it can be an electrical fire, it could be a cooking fire in the kitchen," said Alider Pratts, a fire and recuse chief.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends dry chemical extinguishers should be disposed of 12 years after the date of manufacture.