A Comprehensive Guide to Fire Safety

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You should always be cautious when you are using cooking and heating equipment, electric appliances, and smoking materials as they are the main reasons for home fires. Candles are also another cause of home fires. Though it might seem really romantic to have burning candles in the house all the time, it might create problems. So, use candles less frequently, keep them away from flammable objects and turn them off before you leave the place.

What to do in case of fire?

When you go to a new building, be sure that you know the location of fire exits, fire extinguishers, and fire alarms. If your house catches on fire, first keep you cool and evaluate the fire to see whether you can control it or not. If you find that you are not able to extinguish the fire, warn others by shouting and activating fire alarms. Then, leave the building as soon as possible and when you are in a safe place, call the fire department.

When there is a fire inside the house, you should not open any door. If it is really necessary, you should evaluate the presence of fire on the other side of the door, first. To do so, touch the door and check its temperature and also check for any smoke that might come from another side of the door. If you find no danger, close it when you left the room. Closed doors can effectively restrict the spread of fire.

Crawl to travel through smoke-filled environments, because the smoke rises to the top of the room. To prevent inhalation of toxic gases, wrap a wet cloth around your mouth and nose.

Evacuate the building using the stairs, not the elevators. If there is smoke in the stairs do not enter and go back to your room. Then go into the balcony and signal to rescuers by waving a white cloth.

If your flat doesn’t have a balcony, move to a room free of smoke and seal the door with a wet towel. Then call the fire department and report your exact location within the building. Finally, open the window and shout for help.

Fire extinguisher

Fire needs oxygen, heat, and fuel to exist. If we can remove each of these three factors, we can easily extinguish the fire. Fire extinguishers can effectively remove oxygen from the fire and consequently put out the fire quickly.

However, since we have various types of fires, based on the fuel source, we will need different kinds of fire extinguishers, too. It would be ineffective or sometimes damaging if fire type and fire extinguisher are not compatible. The following table indicates the fire classification system in different parts of the world:

The best option for home is the ABC (ABE) fire extinguisher which is effective against fires involving paper, wood, flammable liquids and electrical equipment.

It’s very difficult and extremely dangerous to put out electrical fires, so it is recommended that immediately call the fire department in this case. However, in emergency situations, you can use ABC (ABE) fire extinguishers, but never put water on an electric fire because you could be badly shocked.

How to put out a fire?

Always consider a means of escape before attempting to put out the fire. Never allow fire, heat or smoke to get between you and your escape route. For extinguishing outdoor fires, put your front to the fire and your back to the wind.

For example, in the above figure, the woman is in the proper position to put out the fire. But the man is not in the correct position, due to the direction of the wind (red arrow) and obstruction of escape routes, with fire expansion.

It takes less than 10 seconds for most residential fire extinguishers to empty. So, never try to extinguish a big fire, like what is shown in the figure above, with fire extinguishers you have in your house. The best thing you can do in this condition is to leave the place and help others to do it, too.

How to use the fire extinguisher?

1. Pull the pin

In order to prevent accidental discharge of the fire extinguisher, there is a pin that locks the lever above the handle. When you are ready to use the fire extinguisher, you should break fire extinguisher tamper seal and pull the pin, first.

2. Aim fire extinguisher nozzle at the base

When using the fire extinguisher, many people aim the nozzle at the top of the fire, where there are more flames. Aiming at the top of the flames cannot effectively put out the fire. You should aim at the bottom of fire instead, in order to cover the top of the fuel by fire extinguisher agents to deprive oxygen of the fire.

3. Squeeze the lever slowly

When you are ready, you should push down the lever above the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent. At this time, your distance from fire should be about 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.5 meters) and if you see the fire is going to diminish you can go closer while you are using the fire extinguisher.

4. Sweep the nozzle from side to side

In order to cover the top of fuel by extinguishing agent completely, you should move the hose from side to side.

How many fire extinguishers do I need and where to place fire extinguishers?

It is really necessary to have enough number of fire extinguishers in your house, and it is also important to install them in the places that are completely accessible in case of fire. There should be at least one fire extinguisher in the entrance of the building and in locations with a high risk of fire such as garage and kitchen. Pay attention that fire extinguishers should not be near the oven or other heating equipment so that they do not be out of your reach in case of fire.

Fire extinguishers should be installed on the wall about 5 feet (1.5 meters) above the ground. Though they might not look beautiful, you should not hide fire extinguishers behind curtains or inside cabinets, but mount them in a place that there are completely visible and easily accessible.

In addition, you should have enough fire extinguishers in other parts of your house so that in case of fire, you do not need to go to another floor, travel more than 80 feet (25 meters) or pass through more than two doors to find one.

Fire extinguishers inspection

Most of the time you do not use fire extinguishers for long periods of time. To be sure that fire extinguishers operate well when you need them, it is necessary to inspect them regularly. During the inspection, examine the extinguisher for any rust, leakage and physical damage and make sure that the pressure gauge needle is in the green zone. You should take your fire extinguishers to professional service centers for a complete inspection, at least once a year.

How to put out a grease fire?

A grease fire requires a Class K (Class F) fire extinguisher which is commonly used in commercial kitchens and restaurants and put out the fire without damage to cooking appliances.

Yet, given the fact that Class K (Class F) fire extinguishers are used almost exclusively to put out grease fires, it might not be economical to purchase one for home. For your kitchen fire, ABC (ABE) extinguisher will be sufficient, though chemical agents can result in damage to cooking appliances.

Consequently, if oil fire is small, do the following:

• Turn off the stove.

• Never attempt to move the pot and do not pour water on it.

• Pour lots of baking soda or salt on fire. Be careful not to pour another material, such as baking powder or flour as they will make the fire even worse.

• Put a metal lid or fire blanket on top of the pan to smother the fire. Never use a wet towel to put out grease fires.

• As your last resort, use ABC (ABE) fire extinguisher.

Fire hose

Fire hose reel provides water with high pressure to extinguish Class A fires such as wood, textile, and paper fires. It is recommended to have at least one person to help you while using a fire hose reel. Furthermore, pay attention that you should never use the fire hose reel in environments with electric appliances until you have not turned off the electricity from the main supplier. Like fire extinguishers, fire hose reels need professional inspection at least once a year.

How to use a hose reel?
For using a fire hose, do the following:

• Break the protective glass in front of the key box and open the door if applicable.

• Turn on the stop valve.

• Run out sufficient length of the hose.

• Aim at the base of the fire and open the nozzle.

What to do after a fire?

After extinguishing the fire, look for smoke and put out any fire that could still be burning. Finally, remove the fuel source and wash any remaining fuel to prevent re-ignition of fire.

Sometimes, there is a legal requirement to report the fire to the fire department, even if you put it out. Usually, insurance companies require official reports from the fire department to pay your claim. So, be sure to contact the fire department and also take photos and videos from the scene to win your insurance claim. Last but not least, refill used fire extinguishers as soon as possible.

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