If you’re like many people, you know that different types of fires require different types of fire extinguishers. However, if you have an air-pressurized water fire extinguisher, you may not know when (and when not to) use it. This guide explains.

What You Need to Know About Air-Pressurized Water Fire Extinguishers

First things first: You may have an air-pressurized water extinguisher somewhere in your home or business. These are commonly called APW extinguishers, and there are typically large, silver fire extinguishers that are filled with regular water and pressurized air. These types of fire extinguishers are really just pressurized squirt guns.

It’s appropriate to use these types of extinguishers on standard fires that are involved in many household items, such as wood, paper and fabric. However, there are some situations in which you should never use an APW extinguisher. You should never use a water fire extinguisher on:

  • Grease fires
  • Gasoline fires
  • Other fires with liquid fuel sources
  • Electrical fires

Related: 4 things you’ll most likely need to throw away after a house fire

The reason you should never use a water-based fire extinguisher in these types of fires is that the water won’t extinguish the flames from liquid fuel sources; these types of fires need to be smothered. Additionally, trying to put water on an electrical fire presents a danger of electrocution – water is a great conductor of electricity, and you could seriously injure yourself (or even die) if you attempt to spray water on an electrical fire.

Pro Tip: You should always unplug any device that’s impacted by an electrical fire before you attempt to put out the flames.

Where Are Air-Pressurized Water Fire Extinguishers Most Common?

APW fire extinguishers are most commonly found in older buildings, as well as in some industrial settings. If you have one in your home, there’s a good chance that it’s a relic from days past. However, if you need to rely on it in an emergency, you need to know that it is only appropriate for fires that involve wood, paper and cloth.

Related: What can you save after a house fire?

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