Today, I want to walk you through how to put out fire without fire extinguisher; whether you’re cooking, camping, or simply going about your business, knowing how to put out a fire will help you be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. While traditional fire safety measures often recommend fire extinguishers, there may be instances where these lifesaving devices are not at your disposal.
Knowing how to put out a fire without a fire extinguisher is a valuable skill, whether you’re in a crisis or want to enhance your emergency preparedness.
This guide will touch on practical techniques that can be used without a fire extinguisher. From household items to basic firefighting principles, we’ll unfold alternative methods to combat small fires. So, keep reading for more clarity.
What Is a Fire Extinguisher?
A fire extinguisher is a portable fire protection device usually filled with extinguishing agents for smothering or controlling small fires. It’s primarily designed to douse flames before they can wreak havoc. A fire extinguisher is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it’s tailored to fight specific classes of fires.
Here are the different classes of fire extinguisher ratings:
- Class A: Best for ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, plastics, and cloth fires. Water and foam are the main extinguishing agents in Class A fire extinguishers.
- Class B: Suitable for fires triggered by grease, oil, or gasoline. Class B fire extinguishers use a dry chemical or carbon dioxide as the dousing agent.
- Class C: Best for electrical fires. The dousing agent is carbon dioxide or a dry chemical.
- Class D: Best for combustible metals. The dousing agent is a dry powdered chemical.
- Class K: Ideal for kitchen fires. They minimize the splash hazard by creating a soapy foam on the hot cooking oil’s surface. The dousing agent is a wet or dry chemical.
- Class ABC: This model is recommended for home use as it works on Class A, B, and C fires. It uses a dry chemical as the extinguishing agent.
A fire extinguisher can be used with minimal skills or training. Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher, Aim the extinguisher’s nozzle at the base of the fire, Squeeze the lever to discharge the dousing agent, and Sweep from side to side until the fire dies down completely.
- Importance of a Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers are essential components of any fire protection plan in any setting. They are the first defense against fires and can help mitigate devastating property damage and death.
If you own a business or property, legislation holds you responsible for providing proper firefighting equipment. That said, let’s explore the importance of fire extinguishers in the guide below:
- Rapid Response: Fires can escalate easily, and every second counts. Luckily, fire extinguishers offer an immediate and effective response. They discharge a jet of extinguishing agents to a fire to suppress it before it becomes a devastating inferno.
- User-Friendly: The good thing about fire extinguishers is that they’re designed with simplicity in mind. The PASS strategy, Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep, offers an easy and memorable set of actions, which is instrumental in times of crisis.
- Versatility: Fires come in different forms, each requiring a particular approach for effective suppression. Fire extinguishers are classified into different types, including Class A for regular combustibles, Class B for combustible liquids, and Class C for electrical fires.
- Protection of Property: Beyond protecting lives, fire extinguishers also safeguard property. Timely intervention with a fire extinguisher can reduce damage to homes and businesses.
- Compliance with Regulations: Fire safety regulations often mandate the presence of fire extinguishers in certain environments. Adhering to these regulations ensures a safer living or working space and emphasizes the legal responsibility of property owners and managers to factor in the well-being of occupants.
- Peace of Mind: The mere presence of fire extinguishers adds to the sense of security and readiness. Knowing that effective equipment is at your disposal promotes a proactive mindset toward fire safety. This motivates individuals to engage in ongoing safety practices.
How to Put Out Fire Without Fire Extinguisher?
When faced with a fire emergency and you lack a fire extinguisher, quick decision-making becomes paramount. Here are alternative methods of putting out a fire without an extinguisher:
Using a Fire Blanket
- Decide whether it’s possible to use a fire blanket: Some classes of fires are not suitable for a fire blanket. If the fire is unmanageable, don’t use this option. Instead, get the help of the fire department.
- Put the blanket on the fire: Unpack the fire blanket from its pouch and place it over the fire. Let the fire suffocate for a few minutes, and don’t lift the blanket during this period.
- Call the fire department: If the fire is not entirely smothered within a few minutes of using your fire blanket, leave the area immediately and contact the fire department. The fire brigade will help manage hotspots that might ignite even if you successfully extinguish the fire.
- Discard the fire blanket: Most fire blankets cannot be used more than once. So be sure to discard the used blanket and replace it with a new one. You don’t want to have fire equipment that doesn’t perform well in the event of a fire.
Putting Out a Kitchen Fire
- Cut off the oxygen of microwave or oven fires: If a fire starts in the oven, turn off the device and close the door. The fire should die down in no time.
- Put a lid on the pan: If fire flares up in the pan, use a lid to smother it. Cover the pan with a metal cooking lid or cookie sheet. Let the pan remain covered until it has cooled. Water won’t work on grease or oil fires. Upon contacting the oil, water molecules easily heat to steam and cause the oil to explode in all directions.
- Use baking soda or salt: Grease fires require a specialized approach. Sprinkle a reasonable amount of baking soda or salt onto the flames to extinguish them.
Water for Class A Fires
In cases involving ordinary combustibles like fabric, rubber, or wood, water proves to be an effective dousing agent. Use a bucket, hose, or any available container to sprinkle water at the base of the flames to smother it.
Clothing or Heavy Fabric for Small Fires
If someone’s clothes catch fire, encourage them to stop what they’re doing, drop to the ground, and roll back and forth to smother the flames. You can also use a heavy fabric, like a coat, to wrap around the person to put out the fire.
Extinguishing Chemical Fires
Most household items are chemical-based and highly combustible, including rubbing alcohol, gasoline, paint thinner, hand sanitizer, nail polish, and remover.
Subjecting these chemicals to an open flame is hazardous. Even doing your nails next to a lit candle can trigger a chemical fire. To extinguish chemical fires, use a fire blanket to cover the fire or pour a generous amount of sand on the fire.
Putting out Electrical Fires
Just like with grease fires, it’s not a good idea to extinguish electrical fires using water. You’ve probably heard that water conducts electricity, so using it to put out electrical fires puts you at risk of getting shocked.
However, there’s one exception to this rule. If, for example, your TV catches fire and you lack a fire extinguisher, you can use water to smother it only after unplugging it. You can also use sand to put out electrical fires by pouring a reasonable amount on the flames.
What Is a Natural Alternative to a Fire Extinguisher?
Fire safety is a significant issue, and so is the subject of fire extinguishers. However, some products have proven to put out small fires, and they can act as substitutes for fire extinguishers. Read below to discover each natural alternative to a fire extinguisher:
- Vinegar: White vinegar is a natural fire suppressant because of its acetic acid content. When mixed with dissolved baking soda, vinegar aids in breaking down the burning material. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, always keep a spray bottle of vinegar handy.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is well-known for its versatility. When applied to a small fire, it emits carbon dioxide to smother the flames by depriving them of oxygen. Baking soda is best for kitchen fires involving grease.
- Salt: Table salt is another natural fire suppressant. Like baking soda, it deprives the fire of oxygen, effectively extinguishing the flames. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the flames, covering the burning item to smother the fire.
- Sand: Sand works by absorbing heat and suffocating the fire by limiting the oxygen supply. It is best for small outdoor fires and cooking fires that are slow-burning.
- Coca-Cola: Coke effectively extinguishes small fires because it contains pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2). To use Coke to smother a fire, open the bottle, close the opening with your thumb, shake the bottle hard, and aim the gushing liquid toward the fire. A note of caution, though: Coca-Cola bottles are not certified fire extinguishers, so you can’t use them to fulfill fire safety regulations.
While these natural alternatives are effective against small fires, their output varies based on the size and type of fire. Also, they cannot substitute professional firefighting apparatus. Always prioritize safety, and if a fire is unmanageable, leave the area immediately and contact the fire brigade.
How Do You Make a Homemade Fire Extinguisher?
A homemade fire extinguisher comes into play when a genuine one is unavailable. Making a homemade extinguisher requires a few basic household items, as highlighted below:
Things You’ll Need
- Baking soda
- Empty and clean spray bottle
- Prepare the spray bottle:
Clean the spray bottle to ensure it is free of any previous contents. A clean bottle prevents any unnecessary reactions or clogs in the nozzle.
- Add baking soda:
Put a few tablespoons of baking soda into the spray bottle. Baking soda emits carbon dioxide when it interacts with an acid, which aids in smothering small fires.
- Add vinegar:
Fill the rest of the bottle with white vinegar. This should initiate the chemical reaction with baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. Securely attach the spray nozzle to the bottle, shake it hard, and save the day.
- Limited effectiveness: It must be noted that a homemade fire extinguisher is less effective than commercially produced fire extinguishers.
- Safety first: Always prioritize your safety. If a fire is rapidly spreading, don’t attempt to put it out using this approach. Contact the fire brigade to contain the fire right away.
Preventing Common Fires
Preventing regular fires requires both responsible practices and proactive measures. Here’s how to go about it:
- Never leave the stove unattended.
- Keep combustible materials far from stovetops.
- Always turn the pot or pan handles inward to avoid accidental knocks.
- Regularly clean grease and food residue.
- Examine and maintain kitchen appliances.
Fire Safety Tools:
- Install a smoke detector near the kitchen to alert you to dangerous levels of smoke. Inspect the detectors monthly to ensure they are working.
- Have at least one fire extinguisher within easy reach.
- Check electrical cords for damage to avoid electrical fires.
- Instead of wrapping frayed or damaged cords with PVC tape, replace them with new ones.
Do not Overload Outlets:
- Distribute electrical gadgets across multiple outlets and avoid overloading power strips or outlets.
- Always unplug unused appliances to deter unwanted circuits.
- Hire an electrician to address any electrical issues, like repairing faulty wiring, damaged electrical panels, circuit breaker issues, and malfunctioning outlets.
Be Careful with Candles:
- Never leave lit candles unattended, and ensure they’re safe from drapes and other ordinary combustibles.
- Place candles on non-flammable surfaces.
- Opt for flameless LED candles.
- Never burn candles near drafts.
- Trim candle wicks to a safe length.
Space Heater Safety:
- Keep space heaters far from combustible materials and furniture.
- Turn off your heater when going to bed.
- Install a spark arrestor to prevent sparks produced in the fireplace from escaping the chimney.
- Schedule annual chimney cleanings to get rid of creosote accumulation.
- Schedule annual furnace inspections to ensure optimal functionality.
- Replace or repair malfunctioning heating equipment.
- Refrain from smoking inside your home, office, and other indoor spaces.
- Ensure cigarette butts are entirely extinguished before discarding them.
- Use designated ashtrays or fire-safe receptacles for proper disposal. Never toss cigarette butts into combustible materials.
- Keep lighters and matches out of children’s reach.
Avoid Smoking in Bed:
- Do not smoke in bed or while drowsy, as this can lead to catastrophic fires.
Fire Safety Education:
- Educate all household members on the dangers of smoking and encourage responsible smoking habits.
- Examine appliances for wear and tear and schedule professional maintenance.
Unplug when Not In Use:
- Unplug your appliances whenever possible, like when you leave for a prolonged period. This saves you money and lowers the possibility of electrical fires.
Education and Awareness:
- Teach household members about proper appliance usage.
- Educate kids about the risks of playing with appliances.
General Fire Safety Practices
Fire Escape Plan:
- Create and practice a fire escape plan with your household members.
- Designate an outside meeting point (i.e., a neighbor’s house or a light post). Be sure to mark the chosen location on your escape plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What should I do if the fire spreads quickly and I don’t have a fire extinguisher?
In this case, it pays to prioritize your safety. Leave the area immediately and contact the fire brigade to help contain the fire.
Q2. What are the downsides of using homemade methods to extinguish fires?
Homemade alternatives to fire extinguishers are resourceful in some situations, but they come with notable downsides. Their effectiveness is restricted, especially when handling more complex fires. The scale and intensity of large fires exceed the capabilities of homemade solutions, making them unreliable in high-risk incidents.
Q3. What are the safety tips for extinguishing a fire without a fire extinguisher?
- Always have a fire escape plan to evacuate the area immediately if the fire gets out of control.
- Protect yourself from smoke inhalation by covering your mouth and nose using a wet towel.
- Be careful not to get burned with the high heat produced by fires.
When fire breaks out in your property, what you do next determines your survival. With a fire extinguisher, you can successfully suppress the fire before it gets out of control.
But what if you don’t own one or if your extinguisher malfunctions? In this case, you’ll want to know how to put out fire without fire extinguisher.
There are many ways to smother a fire without a fire extinguisher. It involves using a generous amount of water to suppress Class A fires, using a fire blanket to cut off the oxygen supply in small fires, and using sand to cover the burning material, depriving the fire of one of the elements sustaining it.
And there’s more! However, these alternatives should not replace professional firefighting equipment. So, if the fire is beyond control, contact the fire department for immediate intervention.