Using a Fire Extinguisher

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According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 3,500 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 18,300 are injured. The agency says that even though a fire extinguisher in the hands of a trained adult can save lives, a majority do not know how to use them. 

 A Fire can double in size every 60 seconds. So the longer it's delayed, the worse the fire is going to be.

 1. When buying fire extinguishers for your home: choose extinguishers labeled "ABC," which means they are broad-spectrum and can combat all different kinds of fires. Also look for the seal of an independent testing organization to make sure the extinguisher is high quality.

 2. Make sure they have gauges on them that tell you how much of the fire-fighting chemicals is left in the canister.

 3. Get the largest, heaviest fire extinguisher you can comfortably handle, so you'll have more fire-fighting power.

 4. Store your fire extinguishers near the exits of the rooms they are in, so you can fight the fire from a location where there's a clear path to get out. Make sure they are easy to grab, not trapped behind other belongings.

 5. Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out. Your local Tumwater Fire Department often offers free hands-on fire extinguisher trainings.

6. Get every other member of the family out of the house and have them call 911. Meanwhile, if the fire is not spreading, is confined to a small area, and the room is not filled with smoke, use the appropriate type of extinguisher on the fire.

 7. Know both your limits and the fire extinguisher's limits. The best way to think of fire extinguishers is as an aid in getting out alive rather than a device to douse a fire completely.

 8. Periodically inspect your extinguishers to determine if they need to be recharged or replaced. Look at the gauge to see if there is ammunition left.

 9. Extinguishers need to be recharged or replaced after each use - even if you haven't used the entire extinguishing agent. Check the gauge on the fire extinguisher for this information.

 10. When using a portable extinguisher, always keep your back to an unobstructed exit that is free from fire. This will allow a clear path to an exit.