Previous: How to Mail a Thank You Card
Next: A Conversation About Budgeting ft. The Financial Diet



View count:60,187
Last sync:2024-04-08 08:15
Ever have that moment where you look at the fire extinguisher on the wall and realize you have no idea how to use it? We here at How to Adult have, and so we made this video!

Huge thanks to Sarah Manuel for supporting us on Patreon!

Support How to Adult on Patreon at

Or at DFTBA Records!

"How to Adult" is a "life skills" edutainment channel brought to you by Executive Producers Hank Green and John Green. Subscribe for new videos!


Many hundreds of thousands of years ago, our ancestors discovered ways to control one of the fiercest forces of nature: fire. But even though we have a half million years of experience playing with fire, that doesn't mean we've totally locked it down.

That's why we invented fire extinguishers. We'll show that stupid fire who's boss. Like us, fire extinguishers have evolved over the years, and now we have a better control over fire and fire safety than ever before.

But the inventions are worthless if you don't know how to use them. So let's go over how to use a fire extinguisher! Step

Zero: Before the extinguisher. Before you worry about using a fire extinguisher, make sure your smoke alarms are working and have charged batteries in them. If you're like me, and burn stuff in the kitchen all the time, it can be tempting to take the batteries out to get the smoke alarm to stop screaming. If you can help it, try not to do that.

But if you do, make sure you put them back right away. Set a reminder on your phone, or tie a string around your finger if you need to. Alerting people in the vicinity of the fire, and evacuating them is always going to be more important than whether or not you can salvage even the most precious family heirloom.

Talk with everyone who lives in your household about your evacuation plans. Having an idea of what to do during an emergency helps keep the chaos at bay, and could potentially save lives. But if you've got that part all set, it's time to get a fire extinguisher.


One: Choose the right extinguisher for you. This one needs to be done before you have a fire. So, like, now-ish. You can find extinguishers at a variety of places: hardware stores, fire safety supply companies, some major retail stores, and the internet.

Obviously, lots of different things can catch on fire: paper, electronic appliances, or even your friend's hair as they bring you a birthday cake. Each kind of fire has good and bad ways to put it out. You wouldn't want to throw water on an electrical or a grease fire, for example.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, there are five main kinds of fires:. A is just a regular wood, paper, or plastic fire;. B is when liquids like gasoline or oil or gasses like propane and butane catch on fire;.

C is when electrical appliances catch on fire;. D is when metals like sodium or magnesium catch on fire;. And K is a kitchen fire.

Nobody knows where E through J went, so don't ask. Every fire extinguisher should have some combination of these letters on it to tell you what kind of fire it's safe to use on. The most common fire extinguishers available are dry chemical.

ABC extinguishers, and those are probably what you'll want unless you have special circumstances. They're messy because they spray powder everywhere. It's bad for electronics and hard to clean up, but it prevents the fire from coming back like a trick birthday candle.

The other common type of extinguisher is the carbon dioxide extinguisher, which is usually just for class B and C fires. It doesn't work very well on class A fires because they can reignite if you don't smother them enough. If you're not totally sure about what kind you need, then you probably just need a dry chemical ABC extinguisher.

If you're still unsure about making that decision, though, you can contact either your local fire department or ask at the fire safety supply company. They can help you out. Also, try to find an extinguisher with a metal head and handle instead of plastic.

These can be recharged easily, which saves on maintenance costs. Step

Two: Judge the fire. It is important to realize that you are probably not a fire fighter. If you are, then why are you watching this video? Portable fire extinguishers are only meant to fight small fires that aren't spreading.

They won't do much if most of your house is already on fire. If you have a fire that's already too big for a fire extinguisher, then the time you spend fooling around with it is time you could be spending evacuating and calling the fire department. Your personal safety comes first, so if you feel any doubt about your ability to handle a fire, then get out and leave it to the professionals.

If you do leave, close whatever doors and windows you can on your way out, but don't lock them. Step

Three: Get in position. This is a requirement for both you and the fire extinguisher. Fire waits for no one, so your extinguisher should never be stored somewhere hard to access. You can get wall mounts for them if you really want, but at the very least you should have it somewhere that you can get to easily.

That means you shouldn't cram it under the kitchen sink way in the back behind your cleaning supplies and mouse traps. A fire is way more dangerous if you're also caught in a mouse trap. The important thing for you is to keep your distance.

Stand a few feet away from the fire, so you're not in danger but you're still close enough to reach with the extinguisher. And remember: don't let the fire get between you and an exit. Step

Four: Pull the Pin. The fire extinguisher will have a small pin with a ring on the end of it, that pokes out from the head and handle. This keeps you from squeezing the handle accidentally and using up all your fire extinguishing stuff before you need to. Once you're in position and ready to use the fire extinguisher, just grab that pin by the ring and yank.


Five: Aim at the base. You only have about 10 seconds worth of stuff in your extinguisher, so you have to make it count. Hitting the top of the flames won't do anything, so you need to aim for the base. Step

Six: Squeeze the handle. Remember how that pin was making it so you couldn't squeeze the handle until you needed to? This is that time. You have one shot.

One opportunity. Are you gonna capture it, or just let it slip? Trick question.

Don't let it slip, just squeeze the handle. Step

Seven: Sweep across the fire. Again, you only have around 10 seconds, so you want to sweep your aim back and forth over the base of the fire. Don't get too excited and just swing it around all willy-nilly, just make sure you cover the whole base of the fire in a couple sweeps. If all goes according to plan, you should no longer have a fire!

If you do, then get out and call the fire department as soon as possible. Remember the doors and windows on your way out. Step

Eight: Make sure the fire is actually out. You don't want to be caught off guard, so it's good to verify. Make sure you don't walk anywhere that was previously on fire. If it reignites, you don't want to be standing in the middle of it with an empty fire extinguisher.

If the fire does come back, or even if you're not totally sure it's out, then evacuate and call the fire department. Even if the fire /doesn't/ come back, it still may have done enough damage that you should call the fire department to come check it out and tell you how bad it is. Step

Nine: Maintain your extinguisher. This is especially important right after you use it, but it's also important before you use it, too. Any time you use an extinguisher, you should get it recharged or replaced immediately. You don't want to forget until it's too late.

There's a little gauge on the head of most fire extinguishers that shows the internal pressure. Once a month, take a look at that little gauge and make sure it's in the green zone. If it's not, you're not going to get your full 10 seconds out of the extinguisher when you need it, and every second counts.

If your extinguisher has a metal head, you can just take it to your local fire safety supply store and get it recharged. If it's plastic, you can try to get it recharged but it may not be possible. If you can't get it recharged, just replace it.

The peace of mind is worth the price of a fire extinguisher. During a general monthly inspection, you should also check that the nozzle is free of any debris, and the pin isn't stuck. Some resources recommend you shake the extinguisher during your inspection to keep the dry powder from settling and caking.

Whether this actually does anything is under debate, but for now it doesn't hurt to just give it a good shake since you're checking it anyway. If your extinguisher is a few years old, you should consider getting it pressure tested to make sure it's safe. Exploding fire extinguishers tend to cause more problems than they solve.

Once you do all that, your fire extinguisher is ready to fight another day! Hopefully it won't have to, but better safe than sorry. Thanks for watching, and thanks for keeping up on your safety.

If you want to help us keep stocked up on fire extinguishers, or just want to support us so we can keep teaching you how to adult, you can go to And if you want to learn more from videos like this, go to and subscribe. It doesn't work very well on closs— [presenter voice] Class A [off-screen sneeze].

Ahhh! Step 8: Make sure the fire is— [line-flub noises] [laughter]. Thank you for watching, and thanks for keeping up on your safety.

If you want to help us keep stocked up on fire extinguishers—. That was weird.