Kitchen fires are likely to become more of an issue over the next couple of weeks as people across the country prepare for the Easter and Passover holidays. Kitchen fires can get out of control quickly, but there are easy steps you can take before they spread.
Cooking equipment is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire related injuries in the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010 alone cooking was involved in more than 156,000 home structure fires, resulting in 420 deaths, 5,310 injuries and $993 million in direct property damage. The vast majority of those fires are caused by unattended cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Association, two-thirds of kitchen fires are caused by the ignition of food or other cooking items.
One of the quickest and most effective ways to stop a fire is to cut off the supply of oxygen. Fires require oxygen and once the supply is cut off the fire goes out. If there’s a fire in your oven or microwave, just shut the appliance door and keep it shut. If there’s a pan fire, put a cover over the pan, shut off the burner and move the pan. Don’t forget to wear an oven mitt.
If the fire is slightly larger or you don’t have a lid that will fit over a pan, use your fire extinguisher to put out a kitchen fire. That’s a piece of equipment that should be in your kitchen and readily accessible. When using the fire extinguisher, remember aim for the base of the fire, not the flames.
If you’re dealing with a grease fire, don’t use water! Grease repels water and the resultant splattering could even spread the flames. If it’s a small fire, cover the pan and remove from the heat source. You can smother the fire with a wet cloth and/or use baking soda. Don’t use flour which can cause a fire to spread.
Finally, if the fire spreads and seems to be getting out of control, get everyone out of the house and call the fire department.