Fire safety is an important topic to discuss with your children. Statistics show that seven people die in house fires across the United States each day. In order to ensure that your children have the best possible chance of surviving an accidental fire, teaching them how to properly use a fire extinguisher is essential.
Here are three things your children need to know to ensure they can effectively wield a fire extinguisher in the future.
1. When extinguishing a fire, aim for the base of the flames.
Your child's initial reaction might be to aim the fire extinguisher directly at the flames when a fire occurs, This is not an effective way to put out a fire, since the chemical extinguishing agent (which may be pressurized nitrogen or powdered potassium bicarbonate depending on the model of extinguisher you purchase) within the fire extinguisher will simply pass right through the flames without stopping them.
By teaching your children to aim for the base of the flame instead, they will be able to extinguish the fuel source feeding the fire. As you practice putting out imaginary fires, be sure that your children know to aim low when using a fire extinguisher.
2. Stand a safe distance from the fire when using a fire extinguisher.
It's important for your children to know that they need to maintain a safe distance when using a fire extinguisher to put out dangerous flames. Be sure that you check the manufacturer's label on your fire extinguisher to identify the discharge range of that particular extinguisher.
Most units have a discharge range between 6 and 20 feet. Help your children identify the maximum discharge range for the fire extinguishers in your home, then have them practice standing within that range to extinguish imaginary fires. This will allow your children to more safely extinguish real fires in the future.
3. Identify when a fire extinguisher will not be effective.
The safe use of a fire extinguisher includes knowing when using an extinguisher will not work. Teaching your children about the four stages of a fire will help them better identify when grabbing a fire extinguisher is not an option.
Most extinguishers (click here for more information) are effective for use on fires in the incipient, or ignition, stage of a fire. If the flames of the fire are still relatively small, then it's likely still in the incipient stage. Larger flames signal an increase in fuel, and you should instruct your children to immediately vacate the home and contact the fire department to deal with these larger fires.
By teaching your children how to safely use a fire extinguisher, you can prevent fire-related injuries in the future.