Strategies to assess and control common home fires

All fires are serious, no matter the size. Here's some ways to assess the situation and, in some cases, control the damage.

Strategies to assess and control common home fires

Grease fires

  • Turn off the burner.
  • If the fire is in a pan, quickly slide a lid over the pan to smother flames. Or, use a B-type extinguisher that's designed to fight grease fires.
  • Don't put water on a grease fire, because that will cause it to spatter and possibly spread.
  • If a grease fire is small, you also can put it out with a liberal sprinkling of baking soda.

Wood and paper fires

If you have a fire extinguisher rated A, use it. If not, pour water on the fire. Take care to keep water away from any electrical receptacles or cords.

Up the chimney

If you suspect that there is a fire inside your chimney, close the damper if possible (it may be too hot to touch), evacuate the house and call the fire department. Turn a hose on the roof near the chimney.

Christmas trees

Fir trees contain resins that are extremely flammable. You may be able to put out a small fire quickly with an ABC extinguisher. If not, evacuate the house and call the fire department.

Flammable liquid

If the flammable liquid was the only cause of a fire, use an ABC fire extinguisher. If there's danger that more flammable liquid will catch fire, evacuate the house and call the fire department.

Aplliance and electrical fires

  • If a fire starts in your oven, close the oven door to suffocate the flames. Turn off the oven.
  • For fires involving plug-in appliances and lights, pull out the plug or shut off the power at the switch or the electrical service panel. If needed, use an ABC-type or C-type extinguisher specific to electrical fires.
  • If you don't have an extinguisher, smother the flames with a nonflammable rug or blanket. Don't use water.
  • If the fire continues after two minutes, leave the house and call the fire department from another house.
  • For dryer fires, keep the dryer door closed and shut the door to the room. Turn off the gas or electricity if possible. Call the fire department.

Different types of fires require different responses. Know how to control fires of different kinds, but also know when to stop fighting and get out of the house.

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