Here’s a truth that many people forget when they’re in the thick of an emergency: All fires aren't the same, which means how they start should trigger your reaction on how you put it out.
And when it comes to grease fires, probably the first thing you’ve heard is to never douse it with water, because doing so will only intensify the flames in a matter of seconds.
According to just about every fire expert under the sun, you should never try to place a burning pan or pot into a running sink or splash water on it. Even using a water-based fire extinguisher will make the fire get dramatically worse.
For grease fires, it’s always best to use a dry chemical fire extinguisher, experts say, and be sure you never try to pick up a burning pan to remove it from the home.
State Farm researcher and kitchen fire expert John Donovan says that eliminating a grease fire has everything to do with planning, and that doesn't mean just making sure you have the appropriate fire extinguisher close by, athough that's obviously key too.
It’s important that you know exactly what you’ll do if a grease fire ever erupts, because sometimes out of sheer instinct, a person will grab a damp towel to smother one, which is just as bad as tossing water directly on to the flames.
“There’s the potential to not get [the towel] on all the way, so you’re still going to have a fire going,” he said. “There’s the potential to drag that pot off the stove.”
The best way to put out a grease fire that’s small and just beginning is to carefully place a lid on the flames, and turn off the oven dial. However, it’s important to leave the lid on for about 20 to 30 minutes afterwards, as removing it will allow the flames to quickly shoot back up.
“As long as that burner is on, it’s going to continue to heat that oil and eventually it’s going to burn around whatever is around the lid. It’s very important to leave it shut off,” said Donovan
In addition, researchers have found that only one cup of water instantly turns into 1,700 cups of steam, which is the reason grease fires and water is such a potentially deadly combination, and it’s why a small stove fire can immediately burn surrounding walls, the ceiling and just about anything in its path.
So it’s imperative that you and your family have everything down and memorized, in terms of what you’ll do if a grease fire or any other fire breaks out.
Conducting family discussions along with dry test runs will only ensure that members of your family will be able to react both swiftly and appropriately.
And although grease fires have to be put out with dry chemical extinguishers, consumers should still keep a tri-class fire extinguisher, which handles fires in the A, B and C categories.
Class A fires are fires that start with wood, paper, cloth, trash and plastics.
Class B fires start with gasoline, flammable liquids, grease, oil or acetone. Class C covers the electrical fire category and class D are fires that start from combustible metals.
There’s a class K category too, for fires that start from animal and vegetable oils, as well as fat when it’s left in cooking appliances. But class K fire extinguishers are typically used in restaurants and other commercial kitchens.
If you’re currently in the market for a good fire extinguisher, FireExtinguisherDepot.com has an array of varieties and sizes.
And of course you’ll be able to get a good extinguisher at places like Home Depot, where you can pick up one of the latest models called the "Kiddie Kitchen 711A Fire Extinguisher" for a little over $20 on the store’s website.
According to the makers of the Kiddie Kitchen, it has been tested to meet the new 711A standard of fire safety, which is a series of tests, where extinguishers are used on things like vegetable and peanut oil, which are the cause of many residential fires.
Then there’s the Stove Top Fire Stop, small round canisters that attach underneath your vent hood. They release a chemical powder to put out a stovetop fire once the flames reach the container.
This can be ideal for those who may be a little nervous about dealing with a fire directly, and although this product works well--according to the general Internet reviews--you should still keep a traditional fire extinguisher handy, just in case.
And go easy on the cooking oil. It's not just flammable, it's fattening.