Guidelines from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) state every RV must have a fire extinguisher by the exit door. But just because the fire extinguisher is insider your RV does not mean it will automatically save your life.
You must know how to use it when an emergency arises. We’ve compiled a guide to help you feel more confident in your ability to use a fire extinguisher in case disaster strikes your RV while on the road.
Evaluate the Situation
The first step on the list is to evaluate the situation. If it is a small fire and you have time to grab the fire extinguisher, you can try putting it out yourself. If the fire is too large and you can’t get to a fire extinguisher, it is better to get out and leave it to the professionals.
Call 911 immediately unless you are absolutely sure you can put it out yourself, giving the responders a chance to get to your location as quickly as possible. If you are too busy fighting the fire, designate a friend or family member to make the call for you.
How To Use a Fire Extinguisher
If you’ve never used a fire extinguisher before, it can be intimidating. Each model is slightly different from another, but they all operate on the same basic idea. It is best to read the instructions before you begin. To save time in a real fire, read the instructions on all the fire extinguishers in your RV so you are ready to use them if necessary.
In the case of a fire, remember OSHA’s advice and the acronym PASS. PASS stands for:
- P- Pull out the pin.
- A- Aim the nozzle of the extinguisher at the base of the fire, not at the top of the flames.
- S- Squeeze the handle to spray while standing 8-10 feet away from the flames.
- S- Sweep the nozzle back and forth over the base of the fire until it looks like it is out.
If the flames reappear, repeat steps two through four. Continue to do this until you are confident the fire is out. There should be no signs of flames or burning materials and there should be little or no heat left in the burning materials.
If you are fighting the fire and your extinguisher runs out, get out immediately. There is nothing else you can do at that point. It is better to escape with your life than to worry about losing your RV.
When In Doubt, Get Out
If you are not confident in your fire fighting abilities, don’t stick around until it is too late. It is better to get out of the RV than to become trapped in the flames. Even if you think the fire is out, it can sometimes flare up again.
Go outside and wait for the fire department to arrive. They have the tools and the knowledge to properly evaluate the situation. Their training allows them to recognize when a fire is truly out and have the tools to handle a flare-up.
GET THE RIGHT EXTINGUISHER
As we said, RVs must have a fire extinguisher rated for B and C class fires. The type of materials involved in the fire determines the class. For example, Class A fires burn materials like wood and paper, Class B fires burn flammable materials such as gasoline, oils or tar, and Class C fires include live electrical wires.
The highest rating for a fire is a Class K, which is a fire on a stove or other cooking appliance using oils or other fats. The more classes listed on your fire extinguisher, the more types of fires it can put out. Not sure which type to choose? Check out our list of the best fire extinguishers for your RV for more suggestions.
It is also important to inspect your fire extinguisher on a regular basis. Check for any signs of wear or age that could interfere with the integrity of the system. You do not want to be in an emergency situation with a fire extinguisher that doesn’t work.
How to Operate Fire Extinguisher
Make sure everyone traveling with you knows where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them. These details may seem tedious before you start your trip, but they could end up saving your life.