10 Tips for Putting Out and Preventing Kitchen Fires - dummies

10 Tips for Putting Out and Preventing Kitchen Fires

By Marie Rama, Bryan Miller

A kitchen fire can start any number of ways: You set a roll of paper towels on the stovetop; you forget to watch the pot; you put that gold-rimmed bowl in the microwave.

When you have a flare-up in the kitchen, you need to act fast to keep the fire from getting out of control. But how you act depends on what kind of fire you have and where it is. Most small fires don’t require a call to the fire department, or the use of a fire extinguisher, but just in case, always have an ABC-certified fire extinguisher handy! These fire extinguishers can put out fires caused by electrical appliances as well as grease fires.

If you do have a kitchen fire, don’t panic. Instead, memorize these instructions for putting out kitchen fires:

  • If you have a fire in the oven, shut the door and turn off the oven. The lack of oxygen will douse the flames. If your oven continues to smoke as if a fire is still going on in there, call the fire department.

  • If you have a fire in a cooking pan and you can safely put the lid on the pan, do so. Use an oven mitt, clap on the lid, move the pan off the burner, and turn off the stove. The lack of oxygen will douse the flames in a pot just like it will when you shut the oven door. If you can’t safely put the lid on a flaming pan or you don’t have a lid for the pan, use that fire extinguisher! That’s what it’s there for.

  • To use a fire extinguisher, pull out the pin, hold the fire extinguisher firmly with one hand, point the nozzle at the fire, squeeze the trigger, and sweep the spray back and forth over the fire.

  • Don’t use water to put out grease fires; the old wives’ tale “Oil and water do not mix” happens to be true. Water repels grease and can spread the fire by splattering the grease. Instead, smother the fire with a wet towel or use that fire extinguisher. If you’re closer to the pantry than the fire extinguisher, throw a few handfuls of baking soda or salt on the fire to cut off its oxygen supply while you get the extinguisher.

  • If the fire is spreading and you can’t control it, get out of the house and call 911! Make sure everybody in your family knows how to get out of the house safely in case of a fire. Practice your fire escape route. Kids, especially, should practice how to get out of the house safely on their own in case of fire.

You can do a lot to prevent kitchen fires in the first place:

  • Keep your appliances serviced, clean, and in good repair. Dump the crumb tray and clean out the toaster crumbs periodically from the toaster or toaster oven. Wipe out the microwave. Clean the oven. If the waffle maker starts sparking or the coffee maker makes strange crackling noises, unplug them and have them repaired or replaced.

  • Install a smoke detector near, but not in, the kitchen. (You don’t want the small amount of smoke sometimes generated from cooking to constantly trigger the alarm.)

  • Use caution when lighting the pilot light or burner on a gas stove. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Don’t use metal in the microwave. The sparks can turn into fire or can seriously damage your microwave.

  • Don’t overfill pots or pans with oil or grease. Wipe up spills and don’t cook on a dirty stove.

  • Always roll up long sleeves and tie back long hair when cooking. You don’t need your beautiful flowing silk sleeves trailing in the spaghetti sauce, and you certainly don’t need to catch on fire!