It takes only a matter of seconds for a grease fire to get out of hand and in order to stop them, it takes some quick thinking on your part. A grease fire occurs when the oil gets too hot leading to it igniting. Different oils burn at different temperatures (called the flash point), but every oil you can buy is capable of catching on fire.
Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water. You will only make the situation worse.
Trying to spray water on to a grease fire can cause the fuel source (grease) to splash, spreading the fire further, faster. The most important thing that you can do to prevent grease fires is to stay put when cooking and always be prepared. The leading cause of cooking fires is people leaving the stove unattended. If your phone rings or the doorbell goes whilst cooking, leave it. Take the time to thoroughly learn the steps below as it could just save your life, or that of your loved ones.
Preventing Grease Fires
- Never leave your pot or pan unattended. You might only be gone a few seconds, but that is all it takes.
- Never try to cook when your tired or intoxicated.
- Never put frozen food in to hot grease and remove as much moisture as possible from the food before cooking.
- Always use a thermometer to check that the temperatures for your oils are correct.
- Always heat the oil slowly.
- When adding food to the oil, do so slowly to avoid splatter.
- Always keep baking soda or salt nearby, in case you need to smother flame.
- Keep a metal pot lid at hand in case of a pot fire.
- Keep a Class K fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Class B fire extinguishers are NOT for cooking oils and grease.
- Anything flammable should be kept well away from the stove.
Putting Out Grease Fires
Never attempt to do the following:
- 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.
Instead, always do the following:
- Turn off the burner, but do not move the pan.
- 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. b) 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 999 or 911 if in the US and get everyone out of the house. Close the door behind you to contain the flames.