Fire extinguisher safety: What you don't know can hurt you

News 6 partners with Orange County Fire Rescue to offer fire safety tips

By Tara Evans - Executive Producer, Brianna Volz - Web producer

ORLANDO, Fla. - When most people buy a fire extinguisher, they stash it under the sink or in a corner and forget about it, but according to fire officials, that's one of the worst things you can do.

The problem is that the extinguisher may not be available, or even work, if and when you need it.

News 6 teamed up with Orange County Fire Rescue's assistant fire marshal, Inez Pressler, to educate the community on what they need to know about fire extinguishers.

Different types of fires

There are different types of fires, which means it matters what kind of fire extinguisher you have. 

Pressler recommends using an ABC method to differentiate the fires.

Type A fires are typically referred to as ash fires, Pressler said while showing different kinds of extinguishers.

"So anything that would burn, that would leave an ash," Pressler said. "So you've got wood, you've got clothes, you've got furniture, books, magazines, anything like that."

Then, of course, there's type B.

According to Pressler, Type B fires are associated with cooking greases, oils, paints, paint thinners, lubricants and other materials of that nature.

Type C fires are basically electrical fires, Pressler said.

"So (this extinguisher) would be for computers, appliances that are on fire," Pressler said.

Because of the various types of fires, Pressler recommends residents make sure the fire extinguisher they have for their home is for ABC fires, which means it will cover any fire that could break out at your home. It also means you won't be putting water on items that it can either damage, or result in your own harm.

Pressler had specific advice for dealing with grease fires.

"What you should do is, you should turn off the stove. If you can, put a lid on the fire. You can put a lid on the pan, and you basically need to get out of the home," Pressler said.

Using an extinguisher on a fire other than the kind it's designed to deal with could be dangerous.

"If we put a type A extinguisher on a C fire, then there is a possibility that our current will follow up the stream and causes injury," Pressler said. "You could get shocked or electrocuted. Absolutely you can be very dangerous." 

Storing your extinguisher

It's also extremely important that you know how and where to store your extinguisher so that it's readily available if and when you need to use it.

Like Pressler said, you shouldn't keep it under a sink or in a dusty old corner. So where should you keep it?

Pressler recommends you keep it in a spot where it can easily be grabbed on your way out of wherever you may be.

"So put it near a door on your way out. If you have a kitchen fire, you don't want to have to go into the fire or stay in the fire to get the fire extinguisher," Pressler said.

Pressler said that, in an ideal situation, fire officials would like to see an extinguisher on each level of a person's home. Having additional ones in other areas is even better.

"Maybe even one in the garage, or where we have like a large storage area, or maybe a shed outside," Pressler said. "It would be good to have one in there, as well."

What else should I know?

In addition to knowing your fire types and where to store your extinguisher, be sure you're familiar with how to use the extinguisher.

You should also check your fire extinguisher regularly so you know ahead of time if it should be replaced. Checking to make sure it's in working order will you give the opportunity to become familiar with how it works and make you feel more comfortable should you ever have to use it to put out a fire.

News 6 worked with OCFR officials to put together instructional videos that walk you through the process of checking your extinguisher and how to use it in case of a fire emergency.

For more information on how to check your fire extinguisher and what exactly you should check for, click here

[WATCH: How do I know if my fire extinguisher is working?]

To get a better look at how to properly use the extinguisher, click here.

[WATCH: How do I put out a fire using an extinguisher?]

Additional training

Pressler said OCFR offers smoke alarm programs during which firefighters come to your home and check your alarms. Firefighters can also help you create a home escape plan and teach you how to operate a fire extinguisher, in addition to offering other types of fire safety training.

Click here to find out how you can request safety training. Additional details about Community Risk Reduction Services offered by Orange County Fire Rescue can be found below.

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