How To Properly Extinguish A Fire

Since the earliest human species first discovered fire it has been a centerpiece of our existence. When under control, a fire can cook food, provide warmth, and be used as a source of light. However, when it is out of control, a fire can be deadly and destructive. While most people would tell you to use water to put out a fire, it depends on the type of fire. For example, using water on a fire involving oil would only make matters worse. So, what is the proper way to extinguish a fire before it spreads. 

What A Fire Needs To Continue Burning

In order for a fire to start and continue burning it needs three essential ingredients. For one, it needs a fuel source, such as wood, oil, or other flammable materials. Next it needs oxygen, which is the most readily available ingredient. Finally it needs a source of heat, such as the friction caused when sparking a match. Without one of the three necessary ingredients, a fire will not start or continue. So, in order to put out a fire, you would need to cautiously remove an ingredient. However, not every technique for extinguishing a fire works for every type of fire.

Types of Fires And How To Extinguish 

cooking fires can be tricky to extinguish,just remeber not to use water.
  • Cooking fires: Cooking fires develop from oils and fats used in cooking. Typically these fires start when a pan with cooking oil/fat is left unattended too over a heat source.  
    • Extinguish with: Do not use water to put this fire out, as water will make matters worse. Instead use a fire extinguisher, which suffocates the flames.
  • Electrical Fire: An electrical fire sparks and usually results from faulty wiring, faulty appliances, overloaded surge protectors and similar incidents. 
    • Extinguish with: To put out an electrical fire, you should cut off the power source. Once the power source is off, you can use water or a standard fire extinguisher. However, if the power is still on, water and or a foam extinguisher should not be used. Each of those conduct electricity and create an even more dangerous situation. 
A simple campfire can be put out with water, sand, dirt or other extinguisher.
  • Wood/Trash/Waste Fire: Common materials such as wood and trash often catch fire on accident and spread easily. 
    • Extinguish with: For these types of fires, you can simply use water or a standard fire extinguisher. However, if you suspect there is an electrical or oil component involved you should avoid using water. 
  • Flammable Gasses/Oils: Similar to cooking fires, these fires involve flammable gases or liquids that are not typically involved in cooking. 
    • Extinguish with: To extinguish this type of fire, it needs to be suffocated by a fire extinguisher of any type. 
  • Combustible metals: Lastly, combustible metals such as sodium, aluminum, magnesium and more are uncommon in households. However they are a type of fire worth knowing
    • Extinguish with: Putting these flames out requires a fire extinguisher and should not be put out with water.

Home Fire Prevention

After taking a look at each type you might want to know how you can prevent one. For one, flammable materials should be carefully used and stored. Keeping flammable materials away from heat sources can prevent an accidental fire from sparking. According to the Ready.gov, a home can be engulfed in flames within minutes of a fire breaking out. So, installing smoke detectors and keeping a fire extinguisher handy can help in case a fire breaks out. Additionally, it helps to have a plan for escape in case your home does catch fire. Of course, if you cannot put the flames out yourself, you should immediately call 9-1-1.

Although a house fire is often a devastating event, having a good homeowner’s policy will help you recover. You should consult your homeowner’s insurance provider about your coverage as it pertains to house fires. 

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