Portable fire extinguishers offer a fast and effective way for individuals to put out small fires. When a fire breaks out — whether it’s at your home or workplace — one of the first things you should do is grab the fire extinguisher. Depending on the severity of the fire, and whether or not there’s fuel nearby, you might be able to contain and eventually put it out. However, once the fire is completely out, you’ll be left with a pile of fire extinguisher chemicals to clean up.
Is It Dry or Water-Based?
Portable fire extinguishers typically fall under one of two different categories: dry or water-based. Water-based models require no special steps when cleaning up the residual mess left behind, but dry models contain various chemicals that may pose a danger to your health.
If you own one or more fire extinguishers, it’s recommended that you familiarize yourself with their contents. Do you know if it’s water-based or dry? How about the chemicals it contains? These are all things you should know before operating a fire extinguishers; otherwise, you place yourself at risk for chemical-related injury from improper use and/or cleanup.
Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher Clean-Up: Vacuum The Powdery Mess
Assuming your dry fire extinguisher contains standard sodium and/or potassium bicarbonate, you can safely clean up most of the powder mess left behind by vacuuming it. Before you start vacuuming, though, you should first gear up in a dust mask, safety goggles and pair of gloves, as the fire may have created toxic fumes and dust. Next, sweet up any large debris and place it in a trash bag. This will create a smoother surface for your vacuum cleaner to run over.
With the large debris removed from the floor, you can now go back over it with a vacuum cleaner to suck up the residual powder left behind from your fire extinguisher. Continue doing this until you’ve successfully removed all of the visible powder. As a precautionary measure, you should go back and clean the area thoroughly to ensure there’s no chemical residue left behind.
Cleaning Fire Extinguisher Foam
Of course, some fire extinguishers spray a foam-like substance to put out fires, and unfortunately you can’t vacuum this type of mess up like the powdery sodium and potassium bicarbonate. The easiest way to clean up fire extinguisher foam is with good old fashioned soap and water.