Handling Fires in the Kitchen

Among the many dangers that are often present in a typical kitchen, fires can be the most damaging. Potentially occurring from a number of accidents, kitchen fires may ignite even when cooks and other kitchen dwellers are especially careful and observant of safety standards. One of the most important things to understand in the scope of kitchen fires is that blazes which have gotten out of control, spread to new areas, and otherwise are not likely to be entirely and quickly extinguished by a household on its own should not be fought alone. Calling the fire department or other emergency service is essential as soon as a person suspects that they’ll be unable to completely deal with the flames on their own; the more time fire-fighting professionals have to reach the scene and perform their work, the greater their chances to limit property damage and prevent injuries and deaths. That being said, small fires still in their initial stages may sometimes be put out by kitchen users armed with the right knowledge and equipment. An especially important aspect of fighting kitchen fires alone is understanding that there are distinct types of fires, and each has its own requirements in terms of how initial flames should be extinguished.

Organic fires are some of the most common in kitchens, and often occur because of kitchen rags, pot holders, and other paper and fabric-based materials. Organic fires can be effectively put out with large quantities of water, though it’s important to remember that if the fire occurs over an electric stove or gas is turned on in a gas stove with a fire nearby, water can cause even greater dangers. If gas is involved in a fire situation in any way, people should immediately evacuate the building and allow emergency responders to fight the fire –the high likelihood of explosions makes such a fire particularly dangerous. When organic fires are not too close to electric or gas kitchen appliances, it may be possible to extinguish the fire with water alone. The areas around the fire are likely to be extremely hot even after visible flames have been extinguished, and it’s a good idea to keep adding water until all smoke and embers have ceased to appear.

Grease fires are also common culprits in kitchens. These types of fires can be particularly dangerous when kitchen users are unaware of how to keep the flames from spreading. People may attempt to extinguish grease fires with water, but this is in fact a very dangerous practice that can fail to eliminate any flames at all and may in fact send grease and oil flying to new areas, creating new and even larger fires. An extinguisher specifically rated for grease-powered flames should be used against this type of fire. Kitchen users may suspect that the expense of such an extinguisher is largely unnecessary, but the degree to which a grease extinguisher can come in handy when facing this type of fire makes such a purchase very wise, especially if cooks often engage in risky techniques such as deep frying. In the absence of an appropriate fire extinguisher, kitchen users may attempt to smother the flames of a grease fire by pouring baking soda or salt at the base of the flames, or by using a safety blanket.

Another common type of fire found in kitchens is the electric fire. Often occurring on or near electric appliances and stoves, these types of fires also require precise fire-fighting procedures in order to extinguish flames without causing new and unnecessary dangers. Before any actions are taken to attempt to put out the fire itself, the source of electric power involved in the fire should be cut off. This is most easily and effectively achieved by shutting off power from an electric main. If this step is not performed first, people may experience electric shocks when attempting to put out the fire. Once this step has been completed, people can begin to work on the flames themselves. Again, smothering is a good technique, and having a safety blanket on hand can help make smothering and depriving the fire of oxygen easy and fast. A kitchen fire extinguisher rated for electric fires is bound to be even more useful, though as with any type of extinguisher, it’s important to know what types of fires the unit is intended for. If an extinguisher is not specifically rated for electric fires, kitchen users should not attempt to use the extinguisher in such circumstances.

When kitchen fires occur, they can understandably be frightening, and people may tend to panic in response. By taking clear, calm, and deliberate action to effectively put out the flames, however, kitchen users may be able to stop fires before they become serious problems.

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