It is bad enough to suffer a kitchen fire, with most caused by unattended cooking. The problem is exacerbated when a person gets burned,...

It is bad enough to suffer a kitchen fire, with most caused by unattended cooking. The problem is exacerbated when a person gets burned, attempting to remove the burning pot or pan from the kitchen, or from the stove to the sink.

The statistics have not gone down, if anything, they have gone up, where kitchen fires are concerned. In other words, 3.7 out of every 10 residential fires occur in the kitchen. I write a lot about possibility and probability. The possibility of a fire occurring in your home is always present. The probability of a fire in your home says that the greatest chance of that fire occurring is in your kitchen. Some believe that the probability is so high that it is not if a fire will occur, but when a fire occurs. The only thing that lowers or impacts the probability is the mindset that a fire could occur, so we must be vigilant, where fire safety is concerned.

I have written, over and over again, how to handle a fire in your kitchen. Let me start by reminding each of you, you are not firefighters. When I tell you about extinguishing a fire, I am talking about a small fire that has not spread beyond the pot or pan. When you have a fire occur in your kitchen, you need to know about it quickly. A smoke alarm in the vicinity of the kitchen is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a smoke alarm close to the kitchen will let you know when a fire occurs in the kitchen. On the other hand, a smoke alarm close to the kitchen could become a nuisance alarm that will be disabled faster than any other alarm. Once you know about the fire, you need to know the right steps to take immediately. You walk into your kitchen and a pan is on fire, on the stovetop. The most effective way to smother the fire is with some type of top on the pan. The safest and most effective top is a cookie sheet or a pizza pan. If you have time to put a hot mitt on, then do it. Slide the cookie sheet or pizza pan across the top of the pan. If you can then safely cut the burner off, then do it. The pan may continue to smoke, but leave it alone. If 911 has not been called yet, then do it now. Keep in mind; if you remove the top or it gets knocked off of the pan because you try to move it, the fire will reignite. At this point, all that was removed from the fire, by covering the pan, was the oxygen. The heat and the fuel are still present.

The other extinguishing method involves the use of a fire extinguisher. Many kitchen fires are caused by grease that overheats and ignites. The proper extinguisher is designated as a Class B extinguisher. Many that are sold in the store are AB or ABC extinguishers, which are both suitable. The one extinguishing agent that you, the novice, do not want to use is water. Water will cause the fire and grease to splatter. The sequence for using a fire extinguisher is as follows:

  • Pull the pin
  • Aim the nozzle
  • Squeeze the handle
  • Sweep the nozzle

Your greatest responsibility, when a kitchen fire occurs in your home or apartment is to make sure that everyone gets out safely, not to attempt to fight the fire and fail. If you get burned in the process of trying to extinguish the fire, you have exponentially added to the problem. Not only is the burn a problem for you and first responders, but also you could potentially spread the fire even more. If you do get burned, you need to flood the area with copious amounts of water, not butter or other petroleum gels. It is bad enough to experience a fire in your home, just don’t suffer a burn to your person, trying to extinguish the fire. Whether you extinguish the fire or not, you need to call 911.