FIRE SAFETY IS NOT A JOKE, Y’ALL!
I repeat – fire safety is not a joke. However, if you’re anything like me, you throw out fire references like nobody’s business. When your bestie is looking especially ‘smoking.’ Or your cheeks become ‘inflamed’ after your kiddo screams a technical term for private parts in a VERY public venue. Maybe you got ‘burned’ by the new barista who served you a Grande in a Venti.
And those flame emojis – so many applications for those hot little icons, amiright?
Fire is part of our everyday vernacular. It is primitive, and a necessary element of our evolution.
Fire is one of the reasons we’re still here (I’m going old school on you guys, but work with me). However, our relationship with fire has changed from that of our prehistoric ancestors. We manage fire. Heck, we OWN IT with our fireplaces, fire pits, barbeques, and heaters of all types. Fire is at our beck and call.
So when a literal FIRE blows up in your face (one that you did not summon with your twenty-first century powers), it’s a whammy.
How do I know this? Oh, just an accidental brush with a kitchen inferno that could have ended tragically. But it didn’t, thank goodness. However, I was moved enough by my idiocy to share some information about kitchen fire safety with you all.
KITCHEN FIRE SAFETY LESSONS I LEARNED AFTER THE “HEAT OF THE MOMENT”:
1. DON’T leave anything unattended on a cooking surface.
In my case, I wasn’t in the kitchen keeping an eye on my heating grease like I should have been. Y’all, I’m Southern. I’ve been serving up fried chicken since college. And I didn’t know that oil can IGNITE if it gets too hot. According to the National Fire Prevention Awareness website, “frying dominates the cooking fire problem.”
Additionally, ranges or cooktops account for the majority of home cooking fire incidents. Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. Like I said, fire safety is not a joke.
2. DON’T cook if you are tired or inebriated.
Please know that I wasn’t guilty of this. However, it is important that you are always alert when cooking. Nurse that glass of Pinot – you can finish the bottle once your potatoes stop sizzlin’, honey. Same if you’re falling asleep. Put the heavy lifting of a home cooked meal off until you are rested.
3. DO know what to do if a fire starts.
Keep a lid close by any time you are cooking with oil. If you start to see or smell smoke, turn off the burner and cover your pan. If an actual fire starts, use the lid to smother it if you can do so safely.
Do not try to carry a pan of burning oil out of the house (#guilty). If the fire is out of control, LEAVE. And shut a door to contain it if you can. Most importantly, get everyone out safely and then call the fire department.
In the case of an oven fire: DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR. Turn off your oven and let it burn out on it’s own. If it doesn’t, call the fire department.
4. DO know what puts out what type of fire.
What do you do if you don’t have a fire extinguisher or a lid close by (again, #guilty)? A quick lesson in chemistry: DO NOT PUT WATER ON A GREASE FIRE! My friend was not aware of this; I was. We tried flour, but learned that flour on a grease fire only makes grease fire gravy.
BAKING SODA can put out a grease fire. Depending on the fire size, though, you may need A LOT of baking soda. Luckily, I had a huge box of it in the fridge that was able to smother the flames.
I’m still counting my blessings that the ramifications from my incident were minor.
There were some grease splatters on the porch, a few minor burns to my legs, slightly singed eyebrows, and what we’ll call miracle “wispy” bangs. Like I said: LUCKY.
I sincerely hope this post helps you if you ever find yourself staring at a fire you did not intentionally invoke. Or that it helps you feel not-so-alone if you, too, have had a kitchen mishap involving an unexpected visit from a flame. At the least, I hope you are more informed about kitchen fire safety than you were a few minutes ago.
Writer’s Note – The above post has been reviewed and certified as accurate by a fire professional, both for the information contained and the steps to take in the event of a grease fire.