When used properly, a portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or controlling it until the fire department arrives.

According to OSHA, the most common emergency small businesses must plan for is a fire. Fire extinguishers can be invaluable tools to help fight smaller fires in the workplace or to protect evacuation routes in the event of a larger one.

A simple way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is the PASS method:

Pull the pin on the extinguisher.

Aim the hose nozzle low toward the base of the fire.

Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.

Sweep the nozzle from side to side at the base of the flames until extinguished.

Here are a few more care and use tips for handling fire extinguishers:

Monthly checks for pressure and expiration. Many extinguishers have gauges that show when pressure is too high or too low. Consider checking your extinguisher monthly or bi-monthly to be sure they haven’t expired.

Keep extinguisher clean. Remove any dust, oil, or grease that might be on the outside of the extinguisher.

Keep fire extinguishers in close proximity to an exit. Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled.

Read the instructions. 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 training.

If you’d like to learn more about fire extinguisher safety please visit the OSHA website.

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