Cooking is one basic activity that can cause immense damage when left unattended. About 30% of kitchen fire cases start because the equipment was left unattended. Fires in the cooking area are more common than you think. Cooking is the leading cause of home fire and injuries, with a staggering proportion of 49% of all types of home fires. Although common, it can become a hazard very fast.
When a fire starts in your cooking area, it is important to act fast and keep the fire under control. How you do that depends on the type of fire and where it happens. We have put together a guide to help you identify the type of kitchen fire and learn how to put out a kitchen fire.
How to put out a stove fire
More than half of cooking fires occur on the stove, compared to the oven, which is only 18% of cases. Frying is one of the main culprits, but not the only one. Cooking in oil, grease or fat is a fire hazard if left unattended because of the high temperature and open exposure to other materials.
When such an unfortunate event occurs, most people experience what is called the ‘adrenaline dump’. You might be tempted to wither throw water on the fire or move the pan or the pot to the sink or outside. These are two major mistakes that can cost you your life. Instead, follow these steps in order to safely extinguish the fire:
- Cover the pan or pot with a lid and do not move it. The lack of oxygen will smother the flames.
- Turn off the stove.
- If the fire is small, pour a box of baking soda or salt. This will douse the fire. Do not substitute with baking powder or flour, as they can explode and cause even more damage.
- If the fire is getting out of control, use a Class K extinguisher and evacuate everyone in the house.
The number 1 rule in grease fire is: do not try to put it out with water. Because water repels grease, the fire will spread to any flammable materials around the stove. The spattered grease will cause serious burns on your skin as well. You need to protect yourself from the spattered grease by wearing oven mitts when putting the lid on the pot or pan.
How to stop an oven fire
Kitchen fires that start in the oven or microwave reported lower casualty. One of the reasons is that it is easier to contain. Nonetheless, the biggest mistake you could do is open the door, because the fire feeds on the oxygen. Lieutenant Anthony Mancuso, director of fire safety with the FDNY warns that ‘You’ll burn your face or set your hair on fire’ if you open the door. “The fire will eventually die down if you just turn the oven off,” he explains. One of the biggest oven fire causes is also leaving it unattended.
The best thing you can do when you experience an oven fire or a microwave fire:
- Keep the door shut. Don’t even crack it to peek inside. Just look through the oven window glass.
- Turn off the appliance and unplug it if you can.
- Let it burn out.
Once the fire has burned out and the oven has cooled, you can open the door and take out the pot. You also need to clean the oven thoroughly. Make sure there is no food waste left inside. Also, clean the spills on the racks and the bottom of the oven. Otherwise, the next time you cook the food remains might cause another oven fire.
Kitchen fire safety
While it is good to know how to handle a kitchen fire, you should also keep in mind some basic kitchen fire safety measures. This is a list of best practices regarding cooking and preventing a fire.
- Do not start cooking if you are tired or have consumed alcohol. Unattended cooking equipment is the number one cause for a kitchen fire. Stay alert and don’t leave the stove on while doing something else around the house.
- Change into clothes that are safe for cooking. Do not cook while wearing a bathrobe, long sleeves or a scarf. If you have long hair, keep it tied back.
- Clear the area around the stove top. Keep oven mitts, wooden utensils, dish and paper towels, potholders or curtains away from the stovetop.
- Install a smoke alarm in the kitchen or cooking area.
- Keep a Class K extinguisher around.
- If a fire starts, do not use water. Also, it is not a good idea to smother it with an apron or towel. This will vent the flames and spread the fire.
- In case the fire is spreading and getting out of control, call 9-1-1 and get everyone out as fast as possible. Mancuso, the FDNY Director of Fire Safety advises that “If you can’t isolate the fire, if it’s larger than a basketball, or if it’s spreading, call the fire department,”
Types of kitchen fires
Stove top or oven fire is not the only culprit when it comes to a kitchen fire. While cooking equipment might be the first thing that comes to mind, other sources can ignite a fire in the cooking area. While you learn how to put out a kitchen fire, beware of these are types of kitchen fires
- Grease or oil fire
Aside from the fire danger on the stove top, the grease waste also represents a hazard. Never dispose of oil or grease in a garbage can, especially when it’s hot. Place a glass or metal container close to the stove if you want to pour used grease immediately after use.
- Electrical and appliance fire
Do not plug in the toaster, toaster oven, microwave or any other kitchen appliance into extension cords. It might not be able to meet the high voltage requirements of all your appliances, which makes the electrical system overload. Also, it is best practice to unplug the small appliances when you don’t use them.
- Flammable items located too close to the fire
Keep objects that can catch fire away from the heat source. This includes mitts, towels, aprons, cookbooks, etc,. Also, make sure to wear appropriate clothes and avoid hanging long sleeves and loose clothes over the pan or pot.
Does homeowner’s insurance cover kitchen fire?
Most policies cover fire damage due to numerous reasons. If you have a kitchen fire caused by accident the repairs are typically covered. It is however best to check with your insurance company.
Kitchen fire in New York
The iFlooded Restoration team of licensed fire and smoke technicians is prepared to handle any type of fire damage in the New York City area. We restore your property to its original state and bill your insurance company directly. This way you have one less thing to worry about after such a disastrous event happens. Call our Emergency number for 24/7 service.