Safely Extinguishing a Grease Fire: A Step-by-Step Guide
|Flash point of common cooking oil|
|Oil type||Bright spot|
|Butter||300 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Canola oil||400 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Pure olives||375-400 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Pork fat||375 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Refined peanuts||450 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Vegetables||400 degrees Fahrenheit|
When you cook with grease, it’s important to know the warning signs that the oil is getting too hot. Boiling and smoking are good signs that it’s time to reduce the heat.
Oil heats up very quickly and once it starts to smoke, it can catch on fire within 30 seconds.
How to put out a fire with grease?
Even with proper precautions, accidents can still happen. If you’re cooking with oil and the fat burns in the pan, knowing the correct steps can be the difference between a dying dinner and a kitchen engulfed in flames.
Fire requires three main elements: a source of heat, fuel, and oxygen. Removing either of these components will help the fire go out.
The steps below will guide you through safe ways to put out small grease fires in your home.
Water makes burning grease worse
Never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. Throwing water into the fire can cause grease to splatter, spread fire and potentially harm people around. It is very dangerous to move a burning pan or pot of oil for the same reasons.
Or call 911
Fires can become out of control very quickly. If a grease fire is large or you are unsure of your ability to put out a small fire, call 911 immediately. Don’t wait until the fire gets out of control.
Emergency personnel will ask you a series of questions to assess the situation and can provide valuable instructions to help you put out the fire on your own. If needed, they can also send firefighters to your home.
Remember that the fire department can always return to the station if you can put out the fire before they get to you.
Turn off the stove
If you’re cooking and the pot catches on fire, the first step is to remove the heat source. Turn off the burner, oven or barbecue.
If your grease fire is burning in the oven, close the oven door. This deprives the fire of oxygen, which can help extinguish it.
Cover with a lid
The simplest way to remove oxygen from a greasy flame is to cover a metal pan or baking sheet. Use the metal clip to place the cap in a position that can keep your arms and hands from harm. Do not use a fabric oven as the material may catch fire and you may be injured.
Avoid using glass or ceramic pan lids. The extreme heat of an open flame can rupture these materials.
Douse the Flames
The warning to never use water to put out a grease fire needs repeating, especially since you may want to take a burning pot into the sink and turn on the faucet.
Instead, you can grab two staples from your pantry to help put out small grease fires safely:
- Baking soda effective because it releases carbon dioxide when heated, which can put out flames.
- Salt form a barrier between the flame and the air. This prevents the fire from receiving the required amount of oxygen.
Note, however, that you need a large amount of salt or baking soda to completely extinguish a grease fire. Sometimes it’s easier and more effective to quickly find a lid and put the flame back on.
While baking soda and salt are effective in extinguishing grease fires, other powdered ingredients can make fires worse. Flour and baking powder are highly flammable and can explode at high temperatures. Do not use them (or any canned mixture containing them) over a greasy fire.
Use K-type fire extinguishers
If you can’t put out the fire with a lid, baking soda, or salt, it’s time to reach for a fire extinguisher.
Each type of fire extinguisher is designed for different types of fires. Each tank is marked with a letter to designate what type of fire fighting vehicle should be used.
The best extinguishers to use on grease fires are class K. These are the wet chemical extinguishers commonly found in commercial kitchens. They are specially designed for cooking fires and work by forming a soapy foam on the surface of the flame to cut off the airflow. They also cool the fire.
If you don’t have a Class K fire extinguisher in your home, a Class B (dry chemical) fire extinguisher may also work.
Never use a Class A-only extinguisher on a grease fire, as it is a water-based extinguishing agent. If you decide to use a general purpose extinguisher, it can be part A as long as it is part B as well. For example, an ABC fire extinguisher will be effective and safe to use on a cooking fire .
If you use a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, take steps to properly clean the residue after everything is said and done.
Small, greasy fires can often be dealt with without the assistance of fire authorities. Always avoid splashing grease when moving pans or using water. This can keep the fire from spreading. Use a metal lid or cookie sheet to block the air or put out the fire with salt or baking soda. If you are not sure what to do or if the fire gets out of control, call 911.
How to prevent burning grease
Cooking fires cause more damage to residential areas than other types of house fires each year. The best way to prevent them in your kitchen is to eliminate common fire hazards and understand the flash points of the oils you use.
Make sure you stay safe in the kitchen by:
Keep your eyes on the stove. When cooking, especially with grease, do not throw it away, but keep an eye on it. When hot oils start to boil and smoke, that’s a sign they may catch fire and start burning grease.
Don’t heat your oil. Cooking oil should be heated slowly. Do not exceed the flash point for the oil you are using.
Remove flammable materials from the area. Keeping your cooking space clean is important. Always wipe the pot when it comes to a boil on the stove and clean the oven if there is food or grease buildup. Keep items such as tissues and recipe books at a safe distance from the burner and hot oil.
Keep a lid handy. If your cooker catches fire, there’s no time to search for the lid. When you’re cooking, leave your pot lid on a nearby counter, even if you don’t think you’ll ever need it.
Know where your fire extinguisher is and how to use it. Having a fire extinguisher in your home won’t make a difference if you don’t know where it is or how to use it. Test your fire extinguisher so you know what type of fire it is designed for. Always keep a safe distance from the fire when using a fire extinguisher, and spray it from the side so that it blows away from you. Replace extinguishers as directed on their labels.
Kitchen fires can be very scary and dangerous. Because half of all cooking fires are grease fires, it’s important to know how to prevent them and how to handle them safely if they happen.
If you have a greasy fire in your kitchen, leave the pan in its original position and turn off the heat source. Take steps to prevent air from entering the fire by sliding a lid over the pan or using salt or baking soda. Never use water over a greasy flame.
It’s wise to have a Class K fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Make sure you (and others in your home) know how to use it properly. Call 911 immediately if you don’t know what to do, or if the fire gets out of control.
Keeping your cooking space flammable and monitoring your pans closely is important.
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