Kitchen Safety: Dealing with Fires this Holiday

Keeping fire safety a priority during the merry, yet manic holidays is very important. Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day. Distractions are at an all time high with all of the people around and activities going on.

According to a Fire Estimate Summary presented by FEMA, in 2018 there were 103,600 reported fires in nonresidential buildings. Of those fires, 31,700 were from cooking. That is three times higher than any other fire causes. Cooking fires alone made up 31% of all nonresidential fires in 2018. 🤯

Understanding how a fire works will give you the tools and knowledge to extinguish it.

The Fire Tetrahedron is a pyramid to help understand the necessary ingredients for most fires. Each of the four sides illustrates an element that must be present in order for a fire to occur: oxygen, heat, fuel and a chain reaction.

The Fire Tetrahedron

Ways to put out a grease fire:

  1. Turn off the heat. DO NOT try and move the pan. You could burn yourself or spill the burning grease in the kitchen, causing the fire to spread.
  2. Cover the pot. This will eliminate the oxygen that is needed to sustain the fire. The lid needs to be metal because the heat will shatter a glass lid. If you don’t have a metal lid then a cookie sheet will suffice.
  3. Pour baking soda or salt on a grease fire. Baking soda releases carbon dioxide which smothers the flames. However, this will only work with small grease fires because it will take a large amount to get the job done. Salt works well because it helps absorb the heat and you will only need a moderate amount, about one cup, to put a decent size grease fire out.
  4. Use a Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher. The mess a fire extinguisher leaves behind might be as bad as the destruction of the fire, not to mention it will contaminate your kitchen. With that being said, this should be a last resort if the first 3 options do not work.

Whatever you do, DO NOT pour water on a grease fire! Oil and water do not mix. Adding water to a grease fire can cause the oil to splash and spread throughout your kitchen and other appliances. In most cases adding water will generate an even larger fire, creating a small explosion. This happens because oils burns at a much higher temperature then water boils, so when it is added to the oil it instantly sinks below it.

Slow motion video of what happens when water is added to a grease fire.

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