It happens to the best home chefs -- a little too much grease around an open flame, and suddenly there’s a fire. A large share of home fires start in the kitchen, so it pays to prepare for this moment by gathering a few basic supplies and understanding exactly what to do if this occurs.
Smothering a Grease Fire
One of the most common types of cooking fires is a stovetop grease fire. It’s also one of the most dangerous, because attempting to extinguish a grease fire improperly can cause it to spread rapidly.
Specifically, you should never douse a grease fire with water. Doing so will cause the water to quickly evaporate, usually causing a burst of flames and spraying hot grease in every direction. Injuries and out-of-control flames can occur in an instant.
Instead, you must smother the fire to deprive it of oxygen. One of the best ways to do this is to cover the flaming pan or pot with a metal lid or sheet pan. Opt for a metal covering if the matching lid is made of glass, because the glass could shatter under the intense heat. And never use plastic, which will melt.
Alternatively, you can smother a grease fire with baking soda or salt. But depending on the size of the fire, it may take several cups to get the job done. For this reason, keeping a large container of baking soda in your kitchen is a smart idea -- even if you’d never use that amount for baking.
Another fail-safe solution is to use a fire extinguisher, which is something every kitchen should have. If you don’t have one, pick up a small Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher at your local hardware store. This type is designed specifically for oil and flammable liquids.
A Little Overdone
Fires can also ignite inside your oven or microwave. If this happens, the most important thing is to keep the door closed. This might seem counterintuitive, but remember -- fires feed on oxygen. If you open the door, oxygen will rush inside, and the fire will flare directly out of the opening.
Turn off the oven or stop the microwave cycle immediately. In the event of a microwave fire, unplug the unit if this can be done safely. The lack of oxygen should cause the fire to peter out quickly, but just in case, be prepared to dial 911. Even if the fire grows, opening the door will only make things worse.
One More Thing
As if those sources weren’t enough, there’s one other common cause of kitchen fires: electrical fire. This can occur if an electrical outlet is overloaded, or if water somehow gets involved and causes sparking.
Avoiding electrical fires is fairly simple, fortunately. Exercise care whenever working with water or liquids in the presence of electrical cooking tools. And never overload your kitchen outlets with multiple appliances, especially if those appliances are generating heat. Overtaxing your kitchen circuit can not only create a dangerous situation, it can trip the breaker and bring your meal preparation to a halt.
Need more help with household fire safety, such as upgrading your smoke detectors? Reach out to your local electrical experts for a no-obligation consultation.