Each year, about 440 people in the United States die inside their home after
trying to fight a fire with a fire extinguisher instead of getting out safely
and calling the fire department. The reasons this happens, according to the
National Fire Protection Association, are:
- They do not know how to
properly use a fire extinguisher. Most people can not learn how to use a fire
extinguisher by simply reading directions. Using a fire extinguisher properly
requires training from professionals. It is even more difficult to read
directions for the first time during an emergency.
- Not all fire
extinguishers will work on all fires. Home fire extinguishers are made for
very small fires that can be put out quickly.
- People try to fight
fires for too long and are overcome by poisonous gases produced by the fire.
- The fire is bigger than
the extinguisher they tried to use was designed for.
American Red Cross recommendations for safety during fires:
- The safest thing to do
in case of a fire is to get away from it safely and call the fire department
from another location away from the fire. Have a fire escape plan and a safe
meeting point for your family. Practice you plan!
- It still is a good idea
to place a fire extinguisher in your home near each place where fire may
start, such as the kitchen, garage, workshop, barbecue area etc. An
extinguisher should only be used on a very small fire that can be put out
quickly. Also install smoke detectors and test them monthly. Replace batteries
once a year or when the alarm does not sound when the unit is tested.
- Get a fire extinguisher
that is rated A-B-C, which is designed for fires that most often occur at
home. For more information on the type and size of fire extinguisher you need
for specific locations in your home, contact your local fire department.
- Get training from your
local fire department on how to use the fire extinguisher that you get. Not
all fire extinguishers work in the same way, so it’s important that you get
training and practice with the same type of fire extinguisher that you may
- Follow the
manufacturer’s instructions for replacing or recharging fire extinguishers.
- If you try to use a
fire extinguisher on a fire and the fire is not out in 30 seconds, drop the
extinguisher and get out.
For additional information
on Fire Extinguisers
or to become a Disaster Resistant Neighborhood, please contact the Van Buren
County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Domestic Preparedness,
Lt. Robert Kurk, 269-657-7786.
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