Portable Fire Extinguishers and Children:
AGE APPROPRIATE. MATURITY MATTERS. PHYSICAL ABILITY MATTERS. NFPA believes that children should not be trained how to operate portable fire extinguishers. Teaching children to use portable fire extinguishers runs counter to NFPA messaging to get out and stay out if there is a fire. Furthermore, children may not have the maturity to operate a portable fire extinguisher properly or decide whether or not a fire is small enough to be put out by the extinguisher. They may not have the physical ability to handle the extinguisher or dexterity to perform the complex actions required to put out a fire. In the process of extinguishing flames, children may not know how to respond if the fire spreads. NFPA continues to believe that only adults who know how to operate portable fire extinguishers should use them.
A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the #1 priority for residents is to get out safely.
Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.