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  • Tom Watson

Home Fire Safety and Extinguisher Tips

Updated: Mar 8, 2023


A fire at home is a terrible thing. So, I am sharing fire safety tips with you. I see many homes with conditions that could easily spark a fire. For example, the other day I was called into a Vernon NJ home about a mice problem in the basement. When I went into the basement to assess the situation, I noticed the electrical panel was missing a cover and wires were exposed. I also noticed some flammable materials in the area: an open gas can, a turpentine can, and a propane tank.


This might not seem to be so bad but consider this scenario for a minute. A mouse could easily come in contact with the exposed wires on the open panel and get electrocuted – even start on fire. With combustible materials stored close by, an explosion is highly likely. Knowing some basic fire safety tips can save your home and family from a serious tragedy.


The home in Vernon could easily reduce the chances of a fire by storing flammable materials in a cabinet. Replace the panel cover on the electrical panel and cover exposed wires.


Another important fire safety tip is knowing where your fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.


What type of fire extinguisher is best for home use?

It’s a good idea to make sure your fire extinguishers are a combination type, labeled with ABC. This means that it will work on paper or wood fires, flammable liquids, and electrical fires. You want one that is easy to handle, and store. As far as brands, there are several reviews online that review home fire extinguishers. I found this one to be helpful: https://www.thespruce.com/best-fire-extinguishers-4119474 . The best one noted is the Amerex B500 ABC Dry Chemical Class A B C - weighing just 5 lbs.

ABC Fire Extinguisher for Home Use

Where to place a fire extinguisher

You should have a fire extinguisher within reach for every floor of your home. I recommend keeping them where a fire is most likely to start – the kitchen, garage, and basement. If you have a second level, you should have one for that level as well. There’s no time to run down to another level to grab it! Make sure everyone in your home knows where the fire extinguishers are located – and how to use them.


How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

There’s an easy acronym for using a fire extinguisher: PASS

  1. Pull the pin

  2. Aim low – at the base of the fire

  3. Squeeze the handle

  4. Sweep from side to side

Every home should have emergency plans – and a fire safety plan should be part of it. It should include training family members how to use the extinguisher. Keep in mind that it may be your child that is the one who will be handling the extinguisher – so small and light should be a purchase consideration.


Here are some safety tips for using a fire extinguisher:

  • Stand 6 to 8 feet away from the fire

  • Use an extinguisher only if you have been trained (or know how) to use it

  • Use fire extinguishers for small fires in early stages

  • Place a fire extinguisher on a mount or in a place where it cannot be damaged. Do not place a pressurized fire extinguisher upright as if it falls over, the nozzle can break off

  • Make sure that all fire extinguishers have an inspection tag, a trigger seal, and a pin

  • After using it, don’t put it back on its mounting until it is refilled

Source: PASS Handout, fire.nv.gov


The best way to deal with fire safety in the home is prevention.

  • Store flammables in closed containers in a cabinet or closet

  • Remove combustible debris in and around your home

  • Make sure your electrical system is up-to-date and meets safety standards. Home electrical fires account for around 51,000 fires each year and nearly 500 deaths.*

  • For more on home electrical fire safety visit: https://www.esfi.org/home-electrical-fires

As a pest control professional, I visit many homes in Sussex and Passaic counties. All too often I see the stage set for a possible home fire. Please make sure you have working fire extinguishers in your home. Know where they are and how to use them. Hopefully you will never have to use them!


Images:

House Fire - Image by eu1 from Pixabay

Fire extinguisher for A, B, and C fires (Carbon Dioxide based). Made by Amerex Corp. Photo by Dante Alighieri


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