Do You Know How to Use Your Fire Extinguisher? There are several ways to put out a fire, but some methods can cause a lot of damage to your home (like water) or can even cause a fire to spread, such as throwing water on a grease fire. A fire extinguisher is usually the safest way to put out a small fire but many people may not be exactly sure how to use an extinguisher properly.

A fire extinguisher works by smothering the fire, effectively starving the fire of air. Fires can grow quickly, however, meaning your fire extinguisher may not put the fire out immediately – or at all. The first step should be to alert authorities or to have someone else in your home make the call. Also, now is the time to think about escape routes you may need to utilize if you can’t extinguish the fire. Before you begin spraying, have your back to the exit so you can leave quickly if needed. Be sure to stand 8 to 10 feet away from the fire to prevent injuries to yourself.

Over the years, the PASS acronym has been developed to help people understand the 4 basic steps for operating a fire extinguisher.

P: Pull the pin. Fire extinguishers are equipped with a safety pin to prevent accidental discharge.
A: Aim low. You’ll want to aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire where flames and rising heat currents can’t disrupt the flow of the extinguishing agent.
S: Squeeze the lever. Some extinguishers have a push button, but many still utilize a lever or trigger design to begin spraying.
S: Sweep from side to side. Moving in a sweeping fashion helps you to reach all parts of the fire evenly, reducing the risk that parts of the fire you haven’t reached yet can continue to spread or reignite areas you already sprayed.

After you’ve used your fire extinguisher, it will need to be recharged or replaced. Be sure to check the pressure on your extinguisher regularly. Most modern extinguishers have a gauge that indicates if the extinguisher is charged to the correct pressure and is ready for use.