If there was a fire in your home, you'd turn to that fire extinguisher right? But do you really know how to use it?
ABC News recently put several men and women to the test , bringing them to what they were told was a fire safety demonstration, but then surprisingly asked them to put out a couch fire with a fire extinguisher.
Many of those put to the test didn't do so hot.
One woman took 10 seconds to just pull out the pin on the extinguisher.
"I always thought it [an extinguisher] would be easy to use and it's not as easy as you think," she told ABC News.
Another woman tested noticed the fire wasn't going out as she attacked it with the extinguisher. She learned a valuable lesson that fire extinguishers are only for small fires that are just starting. If you ever encounter a large fire, experts say you should just flee.
A third woman stood too far away from the fire, rendering the extinguishing ability ineffective.
Firefighters told ABC News that too often they see tragedies because homeowners don't know how to use extinguishers -- even when they have them in the house.
So how do you properly use a fire extinguisher? Follow the acronym P.A.S.S.
P: Pull the pin.
A: Aim at the base of the fire.
S: Squeeze the trigger.
S: Sweep side to side.
ABC news also got some more tips on choosing a fire extinguisher from Rausch, the National Fire Protection Association and from Underwriters Laboratories Inc., which independently tests products and provides safety recommendations:
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. Local fire departments or fire equipment distributors often offer 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.
See ABC News' full report and the video of how the participants did at http://abcnews.go.com/US/Family/pass-fire-extinguishers-correctly-save-lives-blaze/story?id=16742391 .
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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