I saw a great segment on Good Morning America where they randomly selected 4 women, handed them a red fire extinguisher (like the ones we all have in our homes) and timed them to see how long it would take to put out an actual fire.
Not one woman could do it.
The first one couldn’t pull out the pin, the second aimed down instead of at the fire, the third ran out of foam and the last one completely panicked.
Additional advice they gave in the piece was nothing new, but I had long forgotten it. Just think of the acronym. PASS (Pull Aim Squeeze Sweep).
Pull- The first step is to pull the pin (it usually has the inspection tag attached to it) that prevents the handle from being squeezed.
Aim- The second step is to aim the spray nozzle, or if attached the hose nozzle, at the fire. Aim low at the base of the fire.
Squeeze- The third step is to squeeze the handle to spray the contents. Remember a standard fire-extinguisher has less than 30 seconds of spray time.
Sweep- The final step is to sweep back and forth as you spray the base of the fire.
Also, check the expiration date. But good luck in finding it. I looked all over my Kidde extinguisher and even asked someone half my age to read through the fine print and it is nowhere to be found, so I’m going to replace them as I know it’s been at least 10 years. And I figure like everything else, the new ones are probably much better.
And you should have at least two–one in the kitchen and one in the laundry room.
And check that gauge to be sure it’s full.
One of the panelists at our Deal with It: A Woman’s Conference gave some good advice. To avoid panic and freezing on the spot, do a test run. Take the extinguisher outside, pull the pin and try it out. This way, if a fire breaks out, you then have the ‘institutional knowledge’ and it becomes a reflex based on memory. You will perform much better in an emergency.