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PASS the fire test in your home
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles on fire prevention efforts. The articles will continue throughout October as the Great Bend Fire Department presents Fire Prevention Month.)

While it has been the point of the Great Bend Fire Department Fire Prevention Month in October to keep fires from happening, it is also important to know what to do in case there is a fire, and how to be prepared with the right equipment.
According to information from the National Fire Prevention Association, there is one piece of equipment that should be found in all homes.
“A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents is to get out safely.”
It is important, according to the NFPA information, to use the extinguisher only where it’s liable to be successful. “Use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing; everyone has exited the building; the fire department has been called or is being called; and the room is not filled with smoke.”
Steps to follow in using a fire extinguisher are explained with the word PASS, affording to NFPA:
• Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
• Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
• Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
• Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
There are different types of extinguishers, NFPA information notes. “For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher (can be used on all types of home fires) that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.
“Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.”
And it is a good idea to learn how to use the equipment before a fire happens. “Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out. Local fire departments or fire equipment distributors often offer hands-on fire extinguisher trainings.”
To be of the most use, this equipment should be kept in an appropriate part of the house. “Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled.”
If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately, the NFPA warns.
An important element is using an extinguisher is to know when NOT to. “Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms,” according to NFPA information.