Make sure the arrow on your fire extinguisher’s indicator points to green—that means it will work during an emergency. Photo: American Ratings Corporation©2018

I started thinking about my preparedness a lot last fall when fires were raging in Northern California. One day, I came across an article in Consumer Reports magazine that made six key points about fire extinguishers:

1. Make sure you know where yours are.
2. Make sure they’re not coated in dust.
3. Put them on every level of your house.
4. Keep small extinguishers in your car and kitchen.
5. Keep a multipurpose extinguisher in your garage.
6. Make sure the arrows on the indicators point to green, which means they’ll work when the pins are pulled.

Once I looked around my house, I was relieved to find a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen that was marked with the letters A, B and C. This labeling means the retardant can put out  several kinds of fires. I was also happy to see the arrow was in the green after all these years, and the label reminded me that I should inspect the device monthly! I doubt many of us are doing that.

Since reading this article, I’ve purchased a few more fire extinguishers. One is large (around 10 pounds) and I’m keeping it in the garage. The other two weigh between three and four pounds and are easier for me to handle. Those are for our cars.

The last point I want to make is you don’t want to be reading directions on how to use a fire extinguisher while you’re in the middle of an emergency. The simplest thing to remember is the acronym “PASS.” This is shorthand for the steps: pull the pin, aim low, squeeze and sweep the spray from side to side. If you want to watch a video showing the right technique, here’s one from our friends at Consumer Reports magazine.

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