When faced with a fire in the home, you may panic and be tempted to quickly throw water on the flames. If the fire was caused by grease, electricity or gasoline, this is the worst move you can make. Water will dramatically intensify these types of fires, and may turn a dangerous situation into a potentially deadly one. Each flammable material must be extinguished in a different manner, and your first move in an emergency situation should be to call your local fire department, as it is equipped to handle hazardous and flammable materials safely.
Oil or Grease Fire Safety
Many kitchen fires begin with spilled cooking oil or grease that splatters and catches fire. Dump baking soda or salt on a small grease fire to extinguish it; larger fires will require a fire extinguisher. If the fire is larger than you can handle quickly, evacuate the area and call the fire department for assistance. Do not splash water on the flames. The oil may float on top of the water or explode, spreading the fire more quickly and causing a dangerous situation.
Gasoline Fire Safety
Liquid gasoline and gasoline vapors are both extremely flammable. If you are near a gasoline fire, evacuate the area immediately and inform the fire department. Do not attempt to fight the fire yourself, and do not apply water to the flames. Water added to a gasoline fire will spread the fire quickly and may trigger an explosion.
Electrical Fire Safety
Electrical fires should be extinguished with an appropriate chemical fire extinguisher. If you experience a small electrical fire in your home, cut the power to the affected area by flipping the circuit breaker and then use an extinguisher to put out the flames. If you cannot extinguish the flames on your own, evacuate the area and call the fire department. Do not throw water on the fire; water conducts electricity and will cause the fire to grow.
General Fire Safety
For optimum safety, homes should be equipped with chemical fire extinguishers in the kitchen and laundry rooms. You may also choose to store a large box of salt or baking soda in the kitchen for extinguishing potential grease fires. Educate all family members about who to contact in an emergency, how to evacuate the home and where to meet outside after evacuation. Practice monthly fire drills to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire.
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