Kitchen fires are scary, dangerous, and damaging. It's true that you can sometimes stop them before they take hold, but you're likely to still have smoke damage that will need to be professionally dealt with. You'll have to catch the igniting fire very early on in order to prevent this. If you're in the kitchen when the fire starts, you're in the danger zone but you also have a chance to halt the damage. Here are three tips to help you stop a kitchen fire in its tracks.
1. Use a fire extinguisher
Of course, this will require a bit of preparation, but that may be in fact the best way to protect yourself from a fire. If you do have a fire extinguisher in the room (many cooks keep them on a wall mount near the stove, in order to be well within reach in case of an emergency), putting out a small fire can be quite within reach. Instead of running to call 911, you can simply grab the fire extinguisher, remove the pin, and spray generously at the base of the fire. Spray the entire base of the fire from side to side several times. If this doesn't have an immediate effect, however, you should assume that the fire is already out of control and too large to handle on your own. In this case, you should retreat to a safe place and call 911.
2. Smother a grease fire
If you're cooking when a fire starts, you probably have a fairly good idea of what it was that first started flaming. A grease fire, which is any fire that's fueled by grease, oil, or something soaked in fat, is different from a wood fire and you should never put water on it. Instead, switch off any heat or power (such as the stove burner) and use a fire extinguisher as described above. If the fire started inside a pan, you may be able to smother it by placing a tightly-fitting lid on the pan and holding it in place with a potholder. Baking soda can also be used in a pinch to smother a small grease fire, but you have to remember to use enough baking soda to actually keep air from getting through (or in other words, a big pile). Clearly this will only work on a tiny fire unless you have a ten-pound bag of baking soda on hand. Don't use flour to smother a fire. Although this has been done successfully in the past, it's also very dangerous. Flour is flammable, and flour dust in the air can actually explode into a fireball--maybe a fun experiment in a controlled laboratory, but not a good idea in your kitchen.
3. Be careful!
If the fire starts on the stove, in the oven, or anywhere else where you're preparing food, there's a good probability that it is a grease fire. However, it is still possible for other types of fires to emerge in the kitchen. Electrical fires, for example, can start when appliance cords develop malfunctions. So if you're not sure how the fire started, be very wary of electrocution. You should also be careful to avoid stubbornness; if you're trying to fight a fire and it starts to spread at all (instead of starting to die immediately), you should assume it's beyond your control already. Call 911 and move to a safe place. A kitchen fire can cause tragic damage to your home, but it will be much more tragic if you get hurt as well.
These tips will help you stay on top of any small fires that start accidentally when food preparation goes wrong. Remember, though, that a fire can start suddenly and rapidly, sometimes getting too large to deal with before you can respond. In these cases, don't fight a losing battle; get yourself safe and let emergency personnel take care of it. For more information on how to recover from a fire, contact a fire damage service, such as Arkansas Restoration Services Inc.