Tips For Grease Fires in your Home or Business
Grease fires are scary, but if you know what to do when they start, there’s no need to panic. Grease fires can be started by cooking oils (vegetable oil or shortening), bacon grease, butter and margarine. It's also important to keep these items stored safely away from heat sources and out of reach from children and pets. However, if you’re like most people on any given day of the week—and if you're reading this article—you already have some food that's been left on the stove unattended until it catches fire. So let me tell you exactly what steps to take if that happens.
First things first, don’t panic.
The first thing you should do when a grease fire begins to heat up is to stay calm. Panicking will only make the situation worse, which makes sense: Panic can cause you to make bad decisions, like trying to put out a grease fire yourself or running away from it instead of towards an exit.
Instead of panicking, take these steps:
- If possible, get everyone out of the house and call 911 immediately. Do not try to put out the fire yourself—it's dangerous and could result in injury!
- Make sure that everyone is safe before doing anything else (including calling 911).
Don’t use water to put out a Grease Fire
While you may have been taught to use water to put out a grease fire, this is actually the worst thing you can do. Water will spread the fire and make it worse.
If it's safe for you do so, turn off the heat source and see if that stops the flames. You might also try smothering the flames—but only if you're sure no one will get burned in the process of doing this! Finally, if all else fails, use your kitchen extinguisher (if one is available).
Use a fire extinguisher instead! The best option for putting out a grease-based fire is an ABC-type extinguisher, which will coat the burning fuel with foam, preventing oxygen from getting to it and smothering the flames. If you don’t have one of those handy (and most people don’t), gather up some baking soda and throw that on top of your burning grease. It won’t stop the combustion process altogether but will help cool off your frying pan enough so that if there are no sparks nearby, it should go out on its own.
Turn off the Heat Source
If it's safe to do so, shut off the heat source. This may mean turning off your stove, oven or other appliance. Or it may mean turning off an electric or gas supply to your stove. If you are using a microwave, turn it off but don't open the door—a vacuum could cause sparks and reignite the grease fire.
Smother the fire with a Fire Blanket
If you have a fire blanket nearby, this is another option for how to stop a grease fire. A fire blanket is made of a special material that makes it easier for you to smother the flames by covering them with the material. Use the same technique as above: Cover the entire area with water from your sink or bucket, then place the blanket overtop of it so that it covers all of the burning grease.
After you’ve successfully stopped your grease fire using these methods, dispose of your used fire blankets according to local regulations—often they need taken back to specialized recycling centers or disposed in certain ways depending on what material they're made out of.
If your home or business suffers from a fire loss, give SERVPRO of Tri Cities West / Franklin County a call for further questions and we will be happy to help!