Dealing With A Small Kitchen Fire - What You Need to Know
The leading origin of house fire damage is from kitchen mishaps. When you see a kitchen fire start, the fight or flight response is immediate. What actions you take in those precious seconds will determine how much damage occurs.
Putting out a kitchen fire doesn’t take a superhero, but it does take preparedness. SERVPRO of Richardson is prepared to come to the rescue of property owners who are recovering from a house fire, but it’s best when we can stop a fire before it spreads.
Since a kitchen fire is where house fires are more likely to get started, this guide helps you to be prepared and know how to put out an oven fire or stovetop fire.
How to Put Out a Small Kitchen Fire in Your Home
The consequences of a small kitchen fire range from ruining your favorite pan to destroying the whole kitchen. Being well-versed in the right solutions as well as using your best judgment is your best defense.
However, it’s important to remember that a kitchen fire is most manageable when it’s still small, and we have a better shot at putting out a fire in the kitchen when we catch it immediately. We do this by not leaving cooking unattended.
Knowing how to put out a kitchen fire means understanding that not all are alike. We’ll go over each scenario so you’ll know how to respond appropriately.
Microwave or Oven Fire
You’ve made popcorn a thousand times, but this time you pushed the wrong button or added an extra digit to the cooking time. Accidentally cooking something to the point where it burns is the usual cause of microwave fire.
Oven fires can also be started when the baking is well overdone, or if flammable material drips down to the heating element. Oven fires can also happen when an oven gets to be too dirty from food particle buildup.
You may have a reflex to open the oven door, but do not open the door. Instead, how to put out an oven fire is to allow it to suffocate. Leaving the door closed, you’ll turn off the oven or microwave oven to stop the cooking (unplug when possible).
Eventually, the flames will consume all of the oxygen, and oxygen is what the fire needs to sustain itself. The flames should eventually snuff out, but if they persist, call the fire department.
Fire on a Stove
A stray uncooked noodle rolls underneath the burner. If it gets too close to the gas flame or the electric coils, it will catch on fire. Stove fires happen when oils or bits of food make contact with the heating element.
As you would with an oven fire, it’s best to put out a stovetop fire with something that can cover the flames and deprive it of oxygen. A large or pan lid would be best for this. Cover the flames and let them die off.
Salt and baking soda are also effective with putting out stove fires. Douse the flames with either of these items (but not flour as it may make it worse).
The big lid approach is a lot less messy than pouring out salt or baking soda. Next, we’ll explain why we avoid using water to put out a kitchen fire.
Fats are a part of the American diet, so when we prepare foods we may have grease from animal fat or use oils for cooking. Say you wanted to try adding olive oil to the water when boiling pasta. If the water starts to boil over, the oil mixed with it makes contact with the burner and a fire starts. The same thing could also happen with oil spills or grease splatters from a pan. Grease fires are more precarious to put out compared to other kinds of fire.
- Don’t use water to put out grease fires. Water won’t put out the fire, it will just divert the grease and thus spread the fire.
- For a small fire, use the big lid trick as mentioned earlier. Turn off the burner and cover the burning pan or the burner itself with the lid tightly so it’s deprived of oxygen.
- Pour baking soda or salt on the flames until it’s snuffed out (again, do not use flour).
- Use a water-soaked towel to smother the flames. This is different from pouring water on the flame.
- Use a fire extinguisher, pointing it at the base of the flames.
General Safety Tips For Dealing With a Small Kitchen Fire
Kitchen fires can happen unexpectedly. Below are some steps you can take to be proactive and prepared for a kitchen fire.
- Have smoke detectors installed in key areas around the kitchen.
- Have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and ready for use. Don’t discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire. This might move burning grease around the kitchen and cause the fire to spread.
- Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles. Immediately clean up oil spills and grease spatters. Keep cloth materials and cardboard packaging away from the cooktop.
- To avoid fires from boiling over or grease splatters, make sure your pot or pan is the right size for what you are cooking.
- Try to keep pets and children at least three feet from cooking and baking stations. Keep pot handles turned inward so they won’t be accidentally bumped or grabbed by tiny hands.
- Don’t wear loose clothing while cooking because dangling sleeves can catch on fire when near the stove.
- Stay in the kitchen while cooking. Never leave a stovetop or oven unattended when in use.
- Keep a potholder, oven mitt, and lid nearby. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, turn off the burner, put on an oven mitt, and slide the lid over the pan to smother the fire.
- As mentioned earlier, never pour water on a grease fire
- If a fire starts in the microwave, unplug it and do not open the door.
If you are unable to get the fire under control, it’s good to have backup on the way. Call 911, or better yet, have someone else call as you keep the situation under control. Have an escape plan for everyone in the household should you need to evacuate.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher for Small Kitchen Fire
Fire extinguishers are a convenient way to stop a kitchen fire from spreading. You can purchase one from your local hardware store.
When it’s time to use the fire extinguisher:
- Pull the pin to break the tamper seal.
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames.
- Avoid touching the plastic discharge on a CO2 extinguisher as it gets extremely cold and could injure your skin.
- Squeeze the handle to release the fire extinguishing content.
- Oscillate from side to side at the base of the fire until it’s entirely put out. Once it’s extinguished, watch to see if the flame comes back. If the fire starts up again, repeat the process.
Once the fire extinguisher has been used, it will need to be recharged before it can be used again. A recharge can be done by a professional fire extinguisher servicing company.
Reach Out to SERVPRO Richardson for Fire Damage Restoration
Remember, kitchen fires are a common cause of what leads to a house fire. Some basic kitchen safety measures go a long way toward preventing disaster.
SERVPRO of Richardson sincerely hopes that you can minimize the damage of a kitchen fire or prevent them altogether. But sometimes despite our best efforts, things can and will go wrong.
Our fire damage restoration team is prepared to help property owners in Richardson, Texas recover from kitchen fires from a burnt exhaust vent to those with extensive damage. Call us anytime 24/7 for immediate response to your kitchen fire problem, (but remember to dial 911 first to get the fire under control).