A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out or containing a small fire. However, because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority in a fire at home or at work is to get out safely. A portable fire extinguisher should be used only when the fire is confined to a small area and is not growing, everyone has left the building, the fire department has been called, and the room is not filled with smoke.
For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.
Fire extinguishers are labeled with standard symbols identifying the types of fire for which they are effective. Symbols include:
Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the extinguisher so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.
Read the instructions and become familiar with the operation of the extinguisher before you need to use it. To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS: