It’s a scene that could be lifted from a movie: one moment you’re cooking and the next, everything is on fire. That’s the scary nature of grease fires and it’s one of the worst things that can happen in any kitchen. And to make matters worse: you cannot use water to put out the fire.
Yes, that’s right. You CANNOT pour water to snuff out a grease fire. Doing so will only make the situation worse. What you need to do is, first, not panic. Being in a kitchen gives you all the tools you need to put such a fire out. Instead of instinctively reaching for water, turn your attention to removing all the oxygen from the flame. You do this by covering the flame with another pot or a baking pan. If you find it difficult to cover the flame, dump A LOT of baking soda on it.
The solution is quite simple, right? However, that works best when the fire is in a home kitchen. A commercial kitchen will require a lot more than just baking soda. You will need something bigger, like a Halon extinguisher or an Aqueous Film Forming Foam. However, Halon extinguishers are expensive and contain elements that are bad for the environment.
The best way to help prevent a fire in the first place is to install a hood system. But if this is not an option, you should always have a fire extinguisher near.
A fire extinguisher may work, but only if used the right way. Shooting an extinguisher directly at a fire will spread it rather than contain it. What you have to do instead is stand further back. One of the drawbacks to this method is that it takes a while longer for the fire to be put out. You also need to make sure that you have the right extinguisher.
CO2 extinguishers are the most common. They work by removing oxygen but can disperse rather quickly. Another concern to keep in mind is if the extinguisher is pressurized, meaning spraying too close will actually do more damage. The white substance that comes out of the extinguisher is cold, which is not good for electronic stoves, but it maybe be the best option overall to stop the fire.
Dry-powder extinguishers, on the other hand, are best used outdoors and work well on small fires. But since this device uses a lot of powder, it can be very messy.
If you were to choose between not starting a fire in the kitchen and successfully putting out a fire, you would most likely opt for the former. Prevention is always better, and although grease fires may happen, there are steps you can take to avoid them.
One, make sure the hood system is turned on at all times when cooking. Its purpose in the kitchen is to remove airborne grease, smoke, odors, heat, steam, fumes, and combustion products.
Two, keep a clean cooking surface. Your hood system can only do so much; you should do your part as well and always make sure excess food is wiped away.
Three, know when you are defeated. Some fires take a turn for the worse even after you’ve exhausted all options. You have to think about your safety as well. Call for help and get everyone to safety.
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