There are several hazards to be aware of when using fire extinguishers, including the following:
- Backdraft: In some cases, using a fire extinguisher on a fire that is burning inside a confined space, such as a building or vehicle, can cause a backdraft. This occurs when the fire consumes all the available oxygen, causing a sudden rush of air when the fire extinguisher is used, which can cause the fire to reignite or explode.
- Chemical reactions: Some fire extinguishers contain chemicals that can be hazardous if not used properly. For example, using a water-based fire extinguisher on an electrical fire can cause the water to conduct electricity and shock the person using the extinguisher.
- Inhalation: Using a fire extinguisher can generate a lot of dust and smoke, which can be inhaled and cause respiratory irritation or other health problems. It is important to use a fire extinguisher in a well-ventilated area and to wear a respirator if necessary.
- Physical injuries: Fire extinguishers can be heavy and difficult to maneuver, particularly when they are full. Using a fire extinguisher improperly or dropping it can cause physical injuries.
- Ineffective extinguishing: Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a particular type of fire can make the fire worse or cause it to spread. It is important to identify the type of fire and use the appropriate fire extinguisher.
In general, it is important to read and follow the instructions on the fire extinguisher and to use caution when using one to avoid potential hazards.