Kitchen fires can spring up quickly

According to the most recent government statistics available, there are more than 150,000 kitchen fires in the United States yearly, with hundreds of people killed and thousands more injured. Cooking mishaps cause up to 90 percent of kitchen fires, and most of those are grease fires. Those frightening statistics lead up to one big question: Do you know what to do when a kitchen fire flares? Should you first reach for the fire extinguisher or for the phone to call the fire department?

Grease Fires in the Kitchen

Grease fires belong in a class by themselves and should not be handled like any other kitchen fire. Rule No. 1: Never pour water on a grease fire. The best way to handle a grease fire is to smother it, if possible, and let it die out. Follow these specifics:

  • Whenever you’re cooking, have an oven mitt, a potholder, and a lid that fits your pan all on hand and ready to grab in case fire sparks.
  • If grease catches on fire in your cooking pan, quickly put on the oven mitt, then place the lid over the pan to smother the fire. Try to slide the lid over the flames as opposed to dropping the lid down from above.
  • Turn off the burner and leave the pan exactly where it is so that it can cool.
  • Never move the pan, never carry it outside or put it in the sink, and don’t lift the lid until the pan has turned cool.

Oven, Microwave, and Electrical Fires

Fires can happen anywhere in the kitchen — near an electrical outlet, in the microwave, or in the stove. Here are some tips to help you know what to do in case of any of these kitchen fires:

  • Oven fires. Immediately close the oven door and turn it off. If the fire doesn’t go out right away, call the fire department. Have the oven inspected and repaired before you use it again.
  • Microwave fires. Close the microwave door and keep it closed. Turn the microwave off and unplug it if you can do so safely. Leave it closed and don’t use it again until you can have the appliance checked out by a technician.
  • Electrical fires. Prevent electrical fires by not overloading your electrical outlets with appliances. If a fire starts, use a fire extinguisher; never douse it with water. Always call the fire department for an electrical fire, even if you have already put it out with the fire extinguisher.