Kitchen fires are an all too common hazard in most homes. There are an estimated average of 188,800 residential cooking fires per year according to FEMA. These fires result in an average of 195 deaths, 3,800 injuries, and $463 million in property damage. So what does that all mean? Order pizza more often? Go out to eat instead of cooking? Well if it was up to me, yes. But for those of us who cook at home, we all need to know how to extinguish your basic home cooking fires.
I won’t bore you with the definition of fire or the fire triangle (tetrahedron). But I will say there are 2 basic things you need to know. Without oxygen or fuel, fires die out. It’s usually just that simple.
So the first thing we want to do in the event of a fire is don’t panic! Easier said than done, I know.
If the fire is in the microwave or electric oven, turn off the power. Do not open the doors, this will starve the fires of fresh oxygen and it will die out on its own. Now don’t open the door again once you don’t see any fire because there may be enough heat to re-ignite the fire once you give it oxygen again.
If the fire is an oil fire on the stove don’t move the pan! Also, and I can’t stress this enough, DO NOT PUT WATER ON IT!!!! You may spill some oil and spread the fire around the kitchen. You want to take the lid to the pan, or one that is larger than the mouth of the pan, and place it on top. This again, will starve the fire. Some old wives tales will say to use flour. DO NOT! Small particulate/powders can cause explosions (google mythbusters coffee creamer episode). If you don’t have a lid, baking soda. Lots of it! It will cause a chemical reaction that also starves the fire.
Fires in the kitchen can get out of control very fast and cause lots of damage, injuries, and even deaths. Leave the fire in the kitchen to the professionals and go to your local Hibachi! Its much more satisfying and a lot safer.