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7 Posts authored by: populartoday

One of the things you probably see on a daily basis is a fire extinguisher. When you are at work, at school, and certain other places, you may walk past a fire extinguisher. Hopefully, you have one at your home as well. However, you probably do not know how to use a fire extinguisher. Perhaps, one thought you have when it comes to fire extinguishers is that they are very simple to use.


PASS: What Are The 4 Steps in Using a Fire Extinguisher?

  1. PULL - Pull the pin to break the safety tamper seal.
  2. AIM - Aim low towards the base of the fire.
  3. SQUEEZE - Squeeze handle to discharge.
  4. SWEEP - Sweep the trajectory side to side at the base of the fire.


Fortunately, there is nothing complicated about a fire extinguisher. However, you do need to be aware of a few things. One fact that may surprise you, many Americans don't know the right way to use a fire extinguisher. This fact is presented by FEMA. Fires grow quickly, doubling by the minute. This leaves very little time to try to figure out how to use a fire extinguisher. The time it takes for you to try to read the manual of the extinguisher is all the time that is needed for a small fire to become a full-on catastrophe.


Fire Extinguisher Use


What Are The 4 Types of Fire Extinguishers?

It is not only important to know how to use a fire extinguisher but also important to know what type of fire extinguisher you are user. There are 4 different types of fire extinguishers, and each of them are good for different types of fires. The types of fire extinguishers are named according to their class. The class indicates the type of fire that they can put out.


Class A: This type of fire extinguishers are good for fires that have started from wood, paper and other type of ordinary combustible items.


Class B: This type of fire extinguisher is designed to be used on grease, oil, gasoline and other flammable fluids.


Class C: This type of fire extinguisher is designed to be used on fires from electricity.


Class D: This extinguisher class is the best for flammable metals.


This is based on the stateside classification system for fire extinguishers. Knowing that there are four types of fire extinguishers is a good start in learning how to use a fire extinguisher in the case of a fire. Many fire extinguished are considered ABC extinguishers. They can be used to put out fires that are started from paper, flammable fluids, and electricity. They put out fires with the dry chemical known as monoammonium phosphate. There is also the Class K fire extinguisher which is designed for commercial kitchens. The chemicals used in the Class K fire extinguishers are also less likely to cause damage in the appliances it is used on.


Do You Need Training to Use A Fire Extinguisher?

If there is an area where you can get training on how to use a fire extinguisher, it is recommended to get that training. You need to know the most effective way to put out a fire. Depending on where you work, you may need to undergo training on fire extinguisher usage. One method that will help when it comes to fire extinguishers is the PASS method.


Fire Extinguisher PASS

Remember The PASS Method:

1. Pull the pin. Make sure that the nozzle is pointing away from you.

2. Aim low at the base of the fire

3. Squeeze the lever. Make sure you do it slowly.

4. Sweep from side to side as you are squeezing.


Also, there are some emergency services and community organizations that may offer classes on how and when to use a fire extinguisher.


What to Do After You Use A Fire Extinguisher?

This is another important step. After using the fire extinguisher to put out a fire, there is going to be residue left over. Therefore, you are going to have to clean up. The first thing to do is put the fire extinguisher back where you got it from. Then you are going to need a vacuum cleaner. This is for vacuuming the loose debris from the fire. For the residue that is stuck on the surface, take isopropyl alcohol and dilute it with warm water so that it is 50% alcohol and 50% water. Spray solution on the residue and let it sit for several minutes. Afterwards, wipe it down with a damp rag.


In the case of sodium bicarobonate and potassium bicarbonate residue, take some vinegar and mix it with water for a solution. The solution should be made up of 98% hot water and 2% vinegar. Apply the solution to the residue and let it sit for several minutes. Afterwards, take a wet rag and wipe the area.


For monoammonium phosphate residue, take some baking soda and mix it with water to form a paste. Then apply the paste to the residue and let it sit for several minutes. Then take a wet rag and wipe the residue away from the area.


The affected area needs one more wash with soap and water. Then it should be rinsed off as well. In order for the area to dry quickly, you can use a fan. If there is any dry fire extinguisher residue on clothing, cookware, or dishes, then they can be washed in the washing machine, dishwasher, sink or any of the usual methods of cleaning.


Leave it For The Professionals

It is not wise to try to take on every fire. Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher is one thing. There are cases when you might need to get out of the building quickly and let the professionals handle it. One way that you can tell whether the fire needs to be put out is by looking over at the fire. If the fire is taller than you, then you should not try to put out the fire yourself. It is better to get out.


If you are taller than the fire, then there is another factor to consider. It is the type of fire extinguisher you have and the type of fire. For instance, a class A extinguisher only has pressurized water. Therefore, it is not going to be very effective in putting out a grease fire.


Another thing to check is whether the fire extinguisher is fully charged with enough pressure or is within the proper date to use. One way to know is the position the needle is in on the gauge. If the needle is on the green, then you can use the extinguisher. Otherwise, you are better off getting out as quickly as you can.

Cooking is said to be the number one cause of fire and injuries in many homes. According to statistics, over 160,000 homes are annually affected by fires that result from cooking. A large percentage of these infernos starts with food ignition or some other cooking materials, mostly from cooking with grease. It is essential that you know how to quickly respond to fire emergencies as that will save you from huge losses. But how do you stop grease fire and keep your home safe?


How To Stop A Grease Fire


What to Do & How to Stop A Grease Fire

No one plans for infernos to occur, but when they do, the fire spreads instantly. Here are important steps on how to stop a grease fire and knowing what to do.


  • ABC Kitchen Fire Extinguisher. Every household should have a readily available extinguisher.
    There are 3 types of extinguishers that tells you the types of fires its effective against; A., B or C.
    A Type: Regular combustibles like cloth, paper, wood.
    B Type: Flammable liquids, such as gasoline or cooking oil.

        C Type: Live electricity

Never used a fire extinguisher? Learn how to properly operate a fire extinguisher.


  • Cover the Flames. The first step to putting out a fire is to try to remove all oxygen from the flame and prevent it from spreading to other places of the kitchen and the house at large. So if you have a metal lid or any other metallic equipment that can be used for covering, use that. Ensure to leave the lid top on until it has cooled or otherwise you’ll burn yourself.


  • Turn OFF Heating Source. Whether you were using a cooker or stove, you should turn it off immediately.


  • If the fire hadn’t spread so much, sprinkle some salt or dump baking soda on it to cool it down. But in cases where it was big, you need to reach out for a grease fire extinguisher. When in doubt, run to safety away (outside).


The Do’s and Don’ts In Case of a Grease Fire

Fire spreads very fast. And all it takes is just one wrong move, and you could have the whole of your house burnt down to ashes. So to avoid that, you should be aware and keep off the things that can cause the inferno to escalate.

  1. Do Not Use Water On a Grease Fire

    Or any other inferno for that matter. No matter what you do, never think of stopping the flames with water. Why? Water contains oxygen and a lot of it. So when you pour water on the fire, instead of cooling down, you’ll have powered it even more.

  2. Never Attempt to Move The Burning Pot/Pan Outside

    Many people make this common mistake because it seems logical at the time. However, the burning oil could spill, and it can burn you and other flammable objects it comes into contact with.

  3. Never Swat At The Fire With A Fabric Like A Towel or An Apron

    What happens if you do, you’ll be fanning the flame, and it will spread even more. And the material could also catch fire. Also, remember not to place a wet cloth over a grease fire to snuff oxygen, it will only but charge it.

  4. Only Use Baking Soda and Salt - Nothing Else!

    What to put on a grease fire? Some people attempt to put off the flames by using baking powder and other cooking powders. But remember those have a different chemical composition and make-up. So they may not react similarly and may make the fire worse. If you have no baking soda or salt, do not be tempted to use any other powder


    Three out of five non-fatal fire injuries are caused when the victims tried to extinguish the fire themselves. The most common burns were on the hands and lower arms. So if the flames are not manageable, here is what you need to do.


What to Do If There Is A Grease Fire?

  1. Exit the Area. Get you and your family members out of the house immediately to avoid injuries or loss of life. Do not try to be a hero
  2. Once you’ve ensured that everyone is out, close the door to contain the fire and keep it from spreading.
  3. Call 911 once you are at a safe distance from the inferno.
  4. Don’t go back to the area unless the fire extinguishers have contained the fire.


These steps are essential to help you fight off the inferno and prevent you from sustaining injuries. But there are some prevention measures you can take to ensure that grease fire doesn’t occur in the first place.


Tips for Preventing Grease Fires

How do grease fires start? How about learning tips on preventing grease fires.

  1. Never leave the kitchen stove unattended. When frying, boiling, reheating or doing any other kind of cooking, do not leave the kitchen until you are done. Grease fires can happen in less than 30 seconds so do not leave your food unattended to.
  2. Use a heavy cooking pot. Light pots are likely to get easily burnt. Then also remember to use a lid when cooking as it contains the grease and cuts it off from the oxygen that can cause it to flame. But you should note that a grease fire can also occur with the lead on the pot if the oil is too hot.
  3. Do not cook when drinking or sleep-deprived.
  4. Don’t throw in food carelessly when the oil is hot. It will splatter and can lead to burns.
  5. Drain all moisture if you can from the food before dipping it into the hot oil. Also, avoid putting frozen foods into hot grease. ##
  6. Do not over-heat the grease beyond the maximum recommended temperature. If you notice any smoke or oil smells, it simply means that the oil is too hot and therefore you should turn the burner down. You can even use a clip on thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil.
  7. Keep children distant from the stove when it is lit.

In addition to these, how to put out a grease fire tips, it is essential that you are aware of the times and seasons that grease fires are likely to occur. Mostly it is during the holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. So, always alert at these times.


Ensure that you are using the right cooking techniques to keep the fire at away. Also, it is always a good habit to keep salt and baking powder nearby, which is a non-professional best way to put out a grease fire. In case an inferno occurs, you can easily use these things to snuff it out.

Check out more information on Home Cooking Fires on NFPA
Leading Factors in Home Cooking Fires
Home Cooking Fires
Leading Factors & Report Highlight figures. Report: NFPA's "Home Cooking Fires" | Author: Marty Ahrens | Issued: November 2018

If you have a nice individual home, then odds are you’d like to enjoy the outdoor space as well. Constructing a patio without any doubt is one of the most common ways of using the open space effectively. However, if you live in a cooler area, you may be wondering, “how many patio heaters do I need?” This article will provide answers, as well as additional information about patio heaters.

How Many Patio Heaters do I Need? - Be Aware of Potential Fire Hazards

Things to Keep in Mind

Patio heaters generate heat and keep the enclosed space outside your home warm. The number of patio heaters that one requires would depend on various factors like the size of the enclosed space, the insulation standards, and the temperatures outside if you live somewhere warm or cold, the number of people who will be using it and so on. The heat generating capacity of patio heaters is measured by a proven, old and time-tested method and this is referred to as BTU or British thermal unit. Hence, BTU is the main consideration to be taken into account when deciding on the number of patio heater that one would like to have.

What Exactly is BTU?How Many Patio Heaters do I Need

When we talk about BTU we are referring to the amount of energy needed for heating one pound of water. The heat measurement of water is done using Fahrenheit. The BTU is calculated on the amount of heat needed for heating one pound of water in Fahrenheit. The heat generated per BTU is equal to the heat generated from one match stick. Hence, this is the main point to be taken into account when it comes to choosing the number of patio heaters.

Pay Attention to Other Factors too

The number of patio heaters would also depend on the size of the enclosed space and various other factors. When using patio heaters, you should be aware of the possible fire hazards. Did you know that heating equipment is a leading cause of house fires? Heaters can draw a lot of electricity, which means you should avoid using extension cords. Also, be aware of the heaters catching an item on fire, like a blanket that is on top of it. Besides fire hazards, we will look at a few more important things when it comes to choosing the right numbers of patio for your backyard or garden.

Keep a Tab on Clearance

The clearance between one patio heater to another is also a point which must be kept in mind when it comes to choosing the numbers required for your enclosed space. It would be always better to go by the manufacturer’s instruction for efficiency and safety. Generally the patio heaters would require anything from 24 to 30 inches of clearance. This would depend on the BTU it is capable of generating. If the patio heaters are between 35000 to 50000 thousand BTU then you would need around 30 inches of clearance. On the other hand heaters with a BTU of 10000 to 25000 thousand would require around 24 inches of clearance.

In Conclusion

Gas patio heaters cannot be used indoors because they need generous amount of air flow. On the other hand electric patio heaters can be used both indoors and outdoors. This is because electric patio heaters do not emit any harmful Co2 emissions and they are also cheaper when compared to propane operated patio heater. When answering the question as to how many patio heaters do I need, the eco-friendly nature and safety features should be taken into account.

Do you know what to look for during regular maintenance on your furnace? This is one of the biggest investments in your home, and you don’t want to replace it before it’s worn out. Most importantly, modern furnaces have modifications that will require you to fully understand them in case you want to ensure their efficiency. Below is a gas furnace inspection checklist that you can use to ensure that your furnace is working at its best.

Gas Furnace Inspection Checklist - Prevent Fire Hazards  

1. Heat Exchanger

You should check your heat exchanger for possible cracks which if not repaired, can result in the emission of toxic gases.

2. Burners

You need to always keep your burners clean. Dirty burners can result in incomplete combustion, and this is extremely treacherous for your furnace. Besides, you don’t want your house to be full of soot. Instead, you want to ensure that you’re taking all the steps needed to improve indoor air quality.

3. Fun Switch

Once you invest in your furnace, you need peace -- and of course no nuisance. Although if you have a faulty fan and check on the switch, you’ll most likely be hearing different sounds coming from your furnace.

4. Pilot and Pilot Assembly

Pilots are also an integral part of your furnace. You need to make sure that you not only clean them, but also adjust them accordingly to prevent experiencing a furnace shutdown.

5. Safety Controls

You also need to inspect your safety controls routinely. Faulty safety controls can result in accidents in your home. Some accidents include home fires that result from heating products used in homes. Heating equipment fires accounted for 15% of reported home fires in 2011-2015, and 19% of home fire deaths. More often than not, 53% of home fire deaths happened when heating equipment was too close to things that could burn. 

6. Gas Line

Gas leakages can cause extreme harm to your home, and you need to ensure that your shut off valves are working efficiently. You can notice gas leakages from furnace shut offs.

7. Combustion Air

You also need to keep checking your combustion air to ensure that its openings are working efficiently.

8. Flue Pipe

During your routine maintenance, you need to inspect your flue pipe for either leakages or corrosion.

9. Performance and Temperatures

If you keep data of your furnace temperature and performance, it is easy to know when there is a complication.

10. Panels

If you want to reduce your maintenance costs, then your panels need to be secure. Securing them implies that you don’t let them become loose.

11. Control and Safety

Apart from other failing parts of your furnace, faulty controls can increase your overall operating cost.

12. Lubrication

Lubricated furnaces will definitely oversee wear and tear very quickly, and can eventually lead to other sorts of furnace damage.

13. Pulleys and Belts

You compressor life depends on your belts and pulleys. Therefore, you’ll need to adjust them and make sure they are not loose on a consistent basis. If your pulleys and belts are loose, your compressor life will be shortened.

14. Air Filter

An efficiently working air filter means that you will spend less on your furnace. However, if you have a faulty air filter, it may not only waste energy, but also shorten your compressor’s life.

15. Amp and Voltage

Voltages and amp can determine the lifespan of your furnace and the amount of money you will spend on operating it. You, therefore, need to ensure that you check and record fan motors, the draw of the bower meter, the condenser and most importantly, the compressor.

16. Thermostat

Usually, your furnace thermostat needs to be calibrated and checked routinely to prevent failure.

Bottom Line

Routine maintenance of your furnace will increase the lifespan of it; but routine maintenance means much more than simply checking it out to see if everything looks okay. Be sure to use this gas furnace inspection checklist the next time you’re about to do an inspection to ensure that you check all aspects of your furnace.


Having an odor come out of your HVAC system is a red flag. Sometimes, the bad odor will go away, especially if you haven't used that system in a long time. Although in most cases, a burnt plastic odor, or a musty smell could mean there's a bigger problem that needs to be investigated. So, you are noticing your HVAC unit smells like burning plastic? Continue reading on to see what may be the causes of different smells coming from your HVAC system.

HVAC Smells Like Burning Plastic

Burning Smell Coming From Heater or Furnace

A burnt plastic odor coming from your heater probably means you have an electrical or wiring problem. Any number of things could cause this - from poor electrical connections during installation, all the way to using poor coating for the wire. Either of these could start a fire, so it's good to take precautionary measures whenever you smell this odor. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, home electrical fires account for about 51,000 fires every year. This ultimately winds up with nearly 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and property damage that equates to about $1.3 billion. Therefore, your immediate first step should be to turn off your heater and then to contact an electrician.


If you've gone a long time without turning on your heater, it may give off the same slightly burnt rubber odor. This is most likely as a result of dust accumulating in the vents. Give it a few minutes to dissipate. If the odor is resistant, then switch it off and call the electrician.

Mildew & Musty Odor Coming From Your HVAC Units

If you know anything about mold, it's that they can grow anywhere. For the most part, a leaking pipe or defrosting after a particularly intense winter could provide the right conditions for them to grow since it now has adequate humidity.


The worst part about mold growing in your HVAC unit is that their micro particles can get into your respiratory system directly through the air being blown. Mildew and mold in vents are thus infinitely less safe than if those growing on your bathroom walls.


It's better to take preventive measures against vent mold, because sometimes the musty odor commonly associated with mold may be absent.

Sour Or Putrid Smell

Identifying the different odors coming from your HVAC unit can be the difference between a costly maintenance or a DIY solution. If you notice a particularly intense putrid smell, it's possible you have a dead pest on your hands. This is common, since most pests look for where to hibernate during winter and turning on the air conditioner/heater could kill them.


If your HVAC units are easily accessible, taking the dead pest out and doing a thorough clean up could take away the horrid odor, and you may not need to call anyone for help.

Regular Maintenance Prevents All Odors

If you regularly check your HVAC system for any discrepancies, you’ll be able to avoid having to deal with any odors coming out of your system. Remember that one of the worst case scenarios for when your HVAC smells like burning plastic is that it could cause your house to burn down. This is especially with all the electrical works and gas lines within close distance.


One major advantage of regular HVAC maintenance is that, because your heaters and air conditioning systems are working at their peak, they'll consume less energy - thus lowering your utility bill.

Next Steps

HVAC smells like burning plastic? Odors being emitted from your HVAC system is usually a red flag of other underlying issues. It’s key to get these checked out right away so that you can prevent any further damage to your home. Some smells that you should keep an eye out for include burning plastic, mold or mildew, or a sour and putrid smell.

If you have a heating system in your home, you probably are using one equipped with one of the most common furnaces around; gas or electricity. Modern furnaces have come a long way from the early versions that used wood and coal. It is therefore expected that most people will always ask, "How does a furnace work in a house?"


How Does a Furnace Work in a House?

Understanding how a furnace works also helps you in operating and maintaining your unit. In case of any hiccup, it becomes easy to know where to look and also troubleshoot the whole setup. Worlock HVAC suggests that having this knowledge also helps when it comes to picking among the heating systems to tell which will better suit your house and save energy.


The basis of all the furnaces is forced air heating, which means that the heated furnace transfers heat to the air which is then sent through the duct system of your house by the blower fans and distributed all around the house. You do not have to worry about space and how you will fit two duct systems in the house because the furnace heating systems easily share the same duct work with the home's air conditioning unit. This is the brevity of how a furnace works. To fully understand the details, you need to know the various parts of the furnace heating system and their roles.

How Does a Furnace Work in a House

Parts of a Furnace

1. Thermostat - All furnace unit systems contain a thermostat. Its purpose is to detect the temperature levels in the house. It is usually preset to the appropriate degrees. Should the temperatures in the house fall below the set number, the thermostat activates the furnace by sending a signal which opens up the gas valve and a device called a pilot light ignites the furnace.

2. Burners - Gas powered burners are designed to maintain a constant even flame. They all have to be lit for the system to kick on since internal sensors usually shut down the mechanism if even one burner is not lit.

3. Heat Exchanger - Heat from the burners is directed to the heat exchanger which is what warms the air as it is more efficient compared to if it was up to the burners alone. If this component is not working, then you will not get warm air.

4. From the heat exchanger, the warm heat is blown through the ducts and across the whole house by the blower fans propelled by a motor. Once the desired temperature is reached, the thermostat sends a signal to shut down the entire mechanism.


In an electric furnace, the process is the same only a few different components are involved. In place of a pilot light, there is electronic ignition, and in place of gas burners and heat exchanger, we have conductive coils through which air passes through, and it gets heated up for distribution. 


The right furnace system will save you a lot of energy since much of the fuel burnt will be used up for heating the air with very little going to waste. You have to check for the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency when choosing a furnace.



Although furnaces and heaters keep you warm over the colder months, it's important to be aware of the safety precautions when it comes to heaters. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care annually for burn injuries associated with room heaters.



How does a furnace work in a house? The answer lies in knowing the roles of the major parts of the system. You can split it into three to have controls which is the thermostat, the heat source like the burners and the distribution which are the duct and vents system. 

residents raking up flammable debris near a houseIf you are wondering if wildfire safety projects are worth the effort, check out the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network’snew blog, “Does Wildfire Mitigation Work? 16 Examples and Counting.” The article explores success stories shared from seven western states including Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and California.
The stories highlight the importance of working on wildfire preparedness projects focusing on the home and the area surrounding the home, the Home Ignition Zone. One example of a home in Redding, California that survived the Carr Fire was a home owned by Randal Hauser. He not only had made changes to his home including a metal roof and clean gutters but also paid attention especially to the five-foot zone around the home using cement walkways, crushed rock, and other non-combustible materials.
In Nevada, another homeowner who made updates to his home including a class A rated roof, concrete border and deck made with synthetic materials was given assistance by the Nevada Division of Forestry to help with supplemental fuels work. Even though the Berry Fire came within feet of his home, his home was spared and he is credited with creating a safer location for firefighters to stage their firefighting efforts.
For other great stories of success and survival check out the Fire Adapted Learning Network’s blog.  Also, check out other examples of Firewise USA® site success stories. Wildfire project safety work does make a difference. We can all play a role in creating safer neighborhoods and cities. Learn more about how you can get involved today!
Image credit: Residents engage in wildfire safety project work in Bustins Island, Maine. Photo by Faith Berry, NFPA.
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