How to Put Out a Grease Fire: A Guide for Homeowners
Kitchen fires associated with grease ignite over half (53%) of all home cooking fires that started from cooking materials. This includes over 60% of all deaths and 78% of property damage! Taking careful precautions becomes even more imperative when working with ingredients such as oil. If oil gets too hot and isn’t watched carefully, it can lead to a dangerous grease fire in your kitchen.
In the unfortunate event that your oil does ignite, being well-prepared will enable you to extinguish the fire promptly and safely. That’s why we are here to offer our assistance. In this blog post, we will explore what a grease fire is and how to confidently handle this potentially dangerous house fire situation.
What is a Grease Fire?
A grease fire occurs when oil or grease reaches its ignition point and catches fire. Unlike other types of fires, these fires are fueled by flammable liquids and require specialized handling. They tend to spread rapidly and can cause severe burns, property damage, and even injuries or fatalities. Grease fires have distinct characteristics, such as intense flames, thick smoke, the smell of something acrid, and a distinctive sizzling or popping sound.
What Causes a Grease Fire
Preventing grease fires starts with understanding their causes. The following factors commonly contribute to the ignition of grease fires in kitchens:
- High cooking temperatures: When oil or grease is heated beyond its smoke point, it becomes increasingly dangerous and can easily ignite.
- Oil or grease spills: Accidental spills near heat sources, on stovetops, or inside ovens can lead to a dangerous chain reaction.
- Ignition sources near cooking areas: Proximity to open flames, pilot lights, or hot surfaces can provide the necessary spark to ignite the grease.
Minimizing the risk of grease fires requires adopting proactive measures in the kitchen. Here are some essential preventive steps every homeowner should take:
- Proper stove and cooking equipment maintenance: Regularly clean stovetops, ovens, and exhaust hoods to remove grease buildup. Ensure that all equipment is in good working condition and free from leaks or malfunctions.
- Safe cooking practices: Avoid overheating oil or grease and always stay attentive while cooking. Keep flammable items, such as towels or oven mitts, away from heat sources. Never leave cooking unattended.
- Placement of fire extinguishers: Install a class K fire extinguisher. Not all fires are alike, meaning it’s important to use an extinguisher that pertains to grease fires specifically. Keep it in close proximity to the cooking area. Ensure that everyone in the household knows how to use it correctly.
How to Put Out a Grease Fire
Knowing how to respond promptly and effectively when faced with a grease fire is vital. Follow these guidelines to stop a one safely:
Assess the situation: Quickly evaluate the size and severity of the fire. If it is a small fire contained within a pan, you may be able to handle it safely. However, if the fire has spread or is out of control, evacuate immediately and call emergency services.
Response guidelines for different fire sizes:
Small grease fire: Carefully place a metal lid or cookie sheet over the pan to smother the flames. Turn off the heat source.
Medium-sized grease fire: Use a fire extinguisher specifically designed for grease fires. Remember the P.A.S.S. method—Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep from side to side.
Large grease fire: Evacuate the premises and call emergency services. Do not attempt to extinguish a large grease fire on your own.
What if the Grease Fire is in an Oven?
Dealing with a grease fire in an oven requires a slightly different approach, as the enclosed space presents additional challenges. If a grease fire erupts in your oven, it’s essential to stay calm and follow these steps:
- Keep the oven door closed: As soon as you notice the fire, resist the temptation to open the oven door. Opening it will only provide oxygen to the flames, worsening the situation. By keeping the door closed, you can help contain the fire within the oven cavity.
- Turn off the oven: Locate the oven controls and immediately switch them off. Cutting off the heat supply will help prevent the fire from spreading further.
- Do not use water: Under no circumstances should you attempt to extinguish a grease fire in the oven with water. Water will only cause the hot grease to splatter and spread the fire, leading to a more hazardous situation.
- Let the fire burn out: In most cases, it is best to allow the fire to burn out on its own. The lack of oxygen inside the closed oven will eventually cause the flames to subside. However, it is crucial to closely monitor the situation to ensure the fire does not spread outside the oven.
- Call emergency services: If the fire continues to grow or poses a threat. Evacuate your home immediately and contact the fire department. It is always better to prioritize your safety and let professionals handle the situation.
Using the P.A.S.S. Method for Fire Extinguishers
When using a fire extinguisher to combat a grease fire, it is crucial to employ the P.A.S.S. method correctly:
- Pull the pin: Remove the safety pin located on the extinguisher’s handle.
- Aim at the base of the fire: Direct the nozzle or hose at the base of the flames, not the top.
- Squeeze the handle: Firmly grip the handle and squeeze it to release the extinguishing agent.
- Sweep from side to side: Move the extinguisher from side to side, covering the base of the fire with the extinguishing agent.
Alternative Methods to Extinguish a Grease Fire
In situations where a fire extinguisher is not readily available, you can utilize alternative methods to suppress a small grease fire:
- Baking soda: Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the flames to smother the fire.
- Salt: Similarly, you can use salt to cover the fire and stifle the flames.
- Covering with a metal lid or cookie sheet: Carefully place a metal lid or cookie sheet over the pan to cut off the fire’s oxygen supply.
What NOT to Do When Faced with a Grease Fire
During a grease fire emergency, it is essential to avoid certain actions that could worsen the situation:
- Never use water: Water and grease fires do not mix. Water can cause the fire to spread rapidly and potentially lead to explosions.
- Avoid using flour or sugar: These substances are highly flammable and can intensify the fire.
- Do not attempt to carry the burning pan outside: Moving the pan can cause the fire to spread or result in personal injury.
- Do not fan the flames: Fanning the fire can feed it with oxygen, making it grow stronger.
Fire Restoration after a Grease Fire
After successfully extinguishing a grease fire, it is essential to assess the potential damage caused by the incident. Even small fires can leave behind significant consequences, including smoke, soot, and water damage. In such cases, seeking professional restoration services becomes crucial.
- Assessing the damage: A professional fire damage restoration company has the expertise to assess the extent of the damage accurately. They can identify areas affected by fire, smoke, and water, even those that may not be immediately visible.
- Mitigating secondary damage: Timely intervention by restoration professionals can help prevent further deterioration of the property. They have the necessary tools and techniques to address issues such as structural damage, soot damage, and corrosion caused by fire suppression methods.
- Specialized cleaning and restoration: Fire damage restoration experts possess the knowledge and equipment to effectively clean and restore the affected areas. They employ techniques like air filtration, soot and smoke removal, odor removal, and structural repairs to bring your home back to its pre-fire condition.
By engaging qualified fire damage restoration professionals, you can ensure that your home receives the comprehensive care it needs. They possess the skills, experience, and resources to restore your property efficiently, giving you peace of mind during the recovery process.
Need Help Restoring your Property after a Grease Fire?
Understanding how to safely extinguish a grease fire is an essential skill for every homeowner. By recognizing the causes of grease fires, adopting preventive measures, and knowing how to respond effectively, you can protect your loved ones and minimize property damage. By being prepared and knowledgeable, you can confidently handle grease fire emergencies and ensure the well-being of your home and family.
Jenkins Restorations takes specific steps to reduce the property destruction and to restore the property back to its original value. Contact our fire damage restoration experts to restore your property to its’ original condition…or better!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire?
Yes, you can use a class K fire extinguisher specifically designed for extinguishing a grease fire.
What should you never use on a grease fire?
Never use water on a grease fire and avoid using flour or sugar as well. These substances are highly flammable and can exacerbate the fire, making it more dangerous.
Can you use flour to put out a grease fire?
No, flour should not be used to put out a grease fire. While it may seem intuitive to reach for flour as a means to extinguish the flames, it is highly flammable and can actually intensify the fire.
What happens when you put water on a grease fire?
Water and grease do not mix, and the addition of water to a grease fire can cause the hot grease to splatter and spread rapidly. This can result in the fire becoming more intense and difficult to control. The water can also cause the grease to evaporate rapidly, generating steam that can carry burning grease particles and potentially lead to explosive reactions.