Using the correct fire extinguisher to fight a fire

Fire extinguishers are a valuable resource to have in your kitchen or home. It's important to know how to use it before you spray it into a fire.

"Fire extinguishers are also effective," said Tricia Roberts, the Public Education Specialist with the Overland Park Fire Department. "However you don't want to be right on top of that fire when you deploy that fire extinguisher, ‘cause it will shoot that right back at you. It's too much pressure in that can."

Roberts recommends approaching the fire from a distance of about 10 feet. As the extinguisher is discharged, slowly walk toward the fire, stopping at a safe but effective distance.

Before using a fire extinguisher, make sure it is the right one for the job. Different letter classes are for different types of fires. 

For example:

Class A:  common materials such as paper, wood or most other combustibles.

Class B:  Flammable liquids such as gasoline, paint remover or grease

Class C:  Electrical fires

Class D:  Combustible metals usually found in industry

A big concern with a home fire extinguisher is time. We buy them, stow them in the kitchen and then forget about them. However fire extinguishers only stay charged for a certain period of time – somewhere between 5 and 15 years.

To check yours, look for the pressure gauge. Is the needle still in the green? If so, it will be functional. If not, your extinguisher should be serviced or replaced.

If your model does not have a gauge, it is an older model and should be checked periodically by a professional.

For more information, contact your local fire department.

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