October is Fire Prevention Month. Getting prepared for fire safety is easy, and it can literally help save lives.

One major thing you can do is purchase and learn how to use a fire extinguisher. Decide how many you will need. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends one extinguisher per floor in your home.

Learn how to read the label. First, ensure an independent lab has tested it. Then, look at the letters. “A,” “B” and “C” stand for different types of fires that the extinguisher can combat.


“A” stands for common fires, such as those caused by wood or paper. “B” is for fires from liquid, such as gas or oil, and “C” is for electric fires. Opt for a multipurpose extinguisher that carries all three letters.


You may also notice numbers preceding the letters, for example, 4A:10B:C. These stand for the extinguisher’s relative effectiveness for those types of fires. A higher number equals more effectiveness, but it also means more weight.

Pick it up. The larger the extinguisher, the more fire it can combat, but if it weighs too much to use properly, it may do no good.

Go with the largest extinguisher that you and your family members can still handle easily. Place extinguishers in an easily accessible spot, and keep the area clear. Keep it away from stoves or any appliances that may heat up.


Learn how to use it. The NFPA recommends following the PASS technique: Pull the pin. Aim low. Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly. Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

Make sure you have an unobstructed route behind you so that you can evacuate if necessary. Check your local fire department to see if they offer trainings.

Remember that not all fires can be fought with an extinguisher. Take advantage of your local resources to get proper training and help.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.