How to Prevent and Safely Put Out a Grease Fire in Your Kitchen
Statistics reveal that nearly 5,000,000 cooking fires occur annually in the home. Of these fires, grease fires are the most dangerous and are responsible for 1 in every 5 home fire deaths. Learning how to prevent and put out grease fires could save your or a loved one’s life. If you are a landlord, property manager or Airbnb host, make sure to share this information with your renters and guests to help keep them and your property safe.
How to Prevent Grease Fires
- Never leave your pot or pan unattended. This is the leading cause of kitchen fires. It takes less than 30 seconds for smoke to turn into fire, so just leaving the room for a moment could be dangerous.
- Pay attention around fire. Don’t cook when intoxicated or tired.
- Remove as much moisture as possible from food before cooking. Never put frozen food into hot grease.
- Keep grease at the recommended temperature. Use a thermometer to monitor.
- Heat oil slowly.
- Add food slowly and gently to hot oil to avoid splatter.
- Keep baking soda or salt nearby, in case you need to smother flame.
- Cookie sheets should be stored near the stove but not underneath. They won’t be of any help if that area is inaccessible.
- Always keep a metal pot lid on the counter in case of a pot fire.
- Store a Class K fire extinguisher nearby, ideally between the kitchen and nearest exit.
- Keep anything flammable (oven mitts, wooden utensils, etc.) away from the stovetop.
What Not to Do
- Never douse the flame with any liquid, because it’ll vaporize and cause steam explosions in every direction.
- Never carry the burning pot/pan outside. Hands tend to shake when nervous, which means you’re likely to spill the grease and spread the fire.
- Do not use anything glass or plastic. Glass will heat up and shatter and plastic will melt.
- Never use baking powder or flour as substitutes for salt or baking soda. They have a lighter weight and are combustible.
How to Put Out a Grease Fire
***If the fire has spread beyond the cooktop, do not attempt to get near the stove. Leave and call 911. It’ll take less than 5 minutes for the room to be engulfed in flames.***
- Turn off the burner, but do not move the pan. Moving it can cause the fire to grow faster and stronger.
- Don’t use any liquid to attempt to stop the fire.
- Remove the oxygen one of three ways:
a) Cover the pot/pan with a metal lid or baking sheet. This will cause the fire to consume the remaining oxygen and dwindle. This works best for stovetop fires.
b) This method is best for the oven; smother the fire with a lot of salt or baking soda. Make sure to hit the fire directly on top, as throwing the salt or baking soda from the side could cause the flames to jump out and further the damage. Don’t use baking powder or flour, they’re combustible!
c) Use a Class K fire extinguisher. This is a wet chemical extinguisher that lowers the fire temperature and creates a non-combustible barrier between the oil and fire.
- If none of the above steps work, call 911 and get everyone out of the house. Close the door behind you to contain the flames.
Keep a list of these steps somewhere you can easily access them if the time comes. Make sure to share this information with your loved ones, renters and Airbnb guests so they know what to do in case of emergency.
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Victor Jablokov is the CEO of Wallflower Labs, a technology company based in Boston, MA that is developing products to reduce home fires caused by cooking. Learn more at wallflower.com.