The holidays are coming up, which means that there’s going to be a whole lot of cooking in kitchens across America. If some of your cooking adventures involve frying with lots and lots of oil (like deep frying a turkey!), you may be at risk for a grease fire. For this reason, it’s important to know how to safely put out an oil fire.
The US Fire Administration notes that cooking accidents cause 50% of all residential building fires. Kitchen fires also account for 37.2% of fires that involved injuries, and 8.9% of all fatal residential fires. These statistics should caution even the most experienced cook.
Grease fires do not have to be a problem if you take precautions.
- Stay in your kitchen when you’re deep-frying dishes. This way, if a fire breaks out, you will be there to manage it right away.
- Keep your stove flames at reasonable levels. This way, if you’re deep-frying a dish, you minimize the risk of igniting a fire.
- Always remember that water will not work for a grease fire. Water spreads the fire, as it may carry the grease particles and give the fire more fuel to burn. It may also cause the oil to splash, which may spread the fire.
- Keep salt and baking soda near your cooking area. Both agents help put out grease fires, though salt is said to be more effective.
- Keep a heavy cookware lid near your cooking area. Place the lid over the pot should a fire break out.
- Keep a “Class B” fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Fire extinguishers classified as “Class B” are more suited to fluid fires, including kerosene, oil, and cooking liquids.
We think it’s worth mentioning again! A grease fire is different from wood or paper fire. In other words, while water may work to put out your campfire, the opposite is true on a grease fire: Water will worsen the flames.
How to Put Out a Grease Fire
Don’t delay. Take action as soon as your grease fire ignites. Follow these steps:
- Turn off the heat source. This way, the fire won’t get worse.
- Cover the grease fire with the heavy metal lid. Fires are fueled by oxygen, so a heavy lid may suppress further combustion.
- Dump salt or baking soda on the fire. If you have baking soda or salt handy, dump it on the fire. Baking soda releases carbon dioxide, which should put out the fire. However, you’ll need a lot of baking soda for this method to work. Salt is also very effective for putting out grease fires. According to Malcolm Sargeant on Quora, salt puts a barrier between the fire and the source of oxygen that fuels it (air), thus extinguishing the fire.
- If the fire gets worse, use your Class B fire extinguisher. The pressure from the extinguisher may scatter the flames, so stand back a little and then spray the extinguisher on the fire.
- If all else fails, call 9-1-1. If you don’t have the fire completely extinguished within 1 minute, call 9-1-1! Don’t try to be a hero. Get out of the kitchen, get everyone (pets included) out of the house, and dial 9-1-1.
You don’t have to fear grease fires this holiday season. Just make sure to take necessary safety precautions and be ready should a fire occur.
Happy holiday cooking!