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Preventing Kitchen Fires: How to Prevent & Fight Kitchen Fires

Basic Kitchen Safety Rules

Cooking can be a lot of fun, but basic kitchen safety is a priority! Within the kitchen there are a multitude of hazards and potentially dangerous equipment. Sharp objects like knives, open fires by the stove, electrical appliances and even harmful bacteria around the kitchen can all pose a potential risk. Observing basic kitchen safety rules is a great habit to develop with potential danger just around the corner.

Store Knives Safely

Knives are one of the biggest potential dangers in the kitchen, make sure you store all knives in a wooden block or in a drawer out of reach from children. You can follow these simple knife safety tips in order to prevent potential injury.

Don’t Cook in Loose Clothing & Keep Hair Tied Back

Cooking in loose clothing can be potentially dangerous as your clothes may accidentally catch fire. The same goes for long hair, which should always be tied back in order to avoid the possibility of your hair catching fire or even in food.

Be Careful of Jewellery

Always be careful of loose or hanging jewellery that can potentially get caught in pot handles and even potentially fall into food.

Turn Pot Handles Away From You

Pot handles should always be faced away from the edge of the stove, this can prevent you from accidentally knocking the pot from the stove and causing harm to yourself or even a kitchen fire. Keeping handles pointed away from the stove edge also keeps children from being able to reach them.

Wash Your Hands Thoroughly

Always make sure you wash your hands thoroughly, before and after handling food, especially if you’ve been handling raw meats. This can prevent the spread of potentially harmful germs and bacteria.

Don’t Let Temperature-Sensitive Foods Sit Around

Never leave temperature-sensitive foods sitting around the kitchen. Items like raw meats, fish and certain dairy products can spoil very quickly if left in the open, so always ensure you freeze or refrigerate them right away.

Have a Fire Extinguisher on Hand

Just in case of a potential kitchen fire, it’s always good to have a fire extinguisher on hand, just in case. You can find which fire extinguishers are used to different fire types by clicking here.

How to Prevent Kitchen Fires

Keep Appliances Clean & Serviced

It can be tedious, but you should always keep on top of cleaning appliances in and around the kitchen. Ensure you clean toaster crumb trays, wipe down microwaves, clean the oven and even look to have any extraction fan or system cleaned professionally. It’s also a good idea to unplug any appliances that you think may be faulty, and have them repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Unplug Electric Appliances When Not in Use

Appliances like toasters, mixers and coffee machines can all continue to draw power when they’re turned “off”. If these appliances have any faulty wiring that you’re not aware of, it could lead to a potential kitchen fire.

Install Smoke Detectors

Installing smoke detectors is a great idea (you should already have these installed!). However, we recommend not installing smoke detectors within your kitchen, as this may lead to small  amounts of smoke from general cooking tripping smoke detectors.

Don’t Put Metal in the Microwave

This seems like something we should already know… But don’t microwave anything metal, as this is highly dangerous. Sparks from this can cause fires as well as potentially damaging your surroundings.

Don’t Overfill Pots with Oil or Grease

Hot oil and grease are potential fire hazards due to splashes and spills. Hot oil can reach temperatures upwards of 100’C, posing a danger to not only yourself but also your surroundings.

Never Leave Food Cooking Unattended

If you’re in the middle of cooking, always make sure someone is in the kitchen as the food cooks, especially if cooking in oil or when your oven is set to a high temperature. If you need to leave the kitchen, switch the oven or stove off before leaving.

Keep Hair Tied Back

Long hair can look great, but not when it’s in your meal or worse, on fire!

How to Put Out Kitchen Fires

Fire Triangle (Combustion Triangle)

The fire triangle (Sometimes also known as ‘Combustion Triangle’ or ‘Fire Diamond’ are simple models for understanding the key factors needed for fire to thrive. The triangle illustrates the three elements a fire needs to ignite, these are: heat, fuel and an oxidising agent (most often oxygen).

A fire naturally occurs when these three elements are present and combined in the right mixture. A fire can be prevented by removing any one of these three elements from the fire triangle, for example, covering a fire with a fire blanket removes the oxygen, and suffocates the fire, eventually extinguishing it.

Which Fire Extinguisher Should I Use?

Fire extinguishers are available in various different types with each one categorised into classes they can be used to extinguish.

  • Class A Fires – Solid Combustibles – Fire involving solid combustible materials such as wood, textiles, straw, paper etc.
  • Class B Fires – Flammable Liquids – Fires caused by combustion of liquids or materials that liquefy  such as petrol, oils, fat etc.
  • Class C – Flammable Gases – Fires caused by combustion of gases such as methane, propane, hydrogen, natural gases etc.
  • Class D – Flammable Metals – Fires involving combustible metals such as magnesium, aluminium, lithium, sodium etc. Combustible metal fires are unique hazards that require special fire extinguishers.
  • Electric Fires (Formerly Class E) –  Electrical Appliances – Fires involving electrical appliances such as computers, electrical heaters, stereos etc.
  • Class F Fires – Combustible Cooking Media – Fires involving particularly hot or deep oil and grease fires such as deep fat fryers in commercial kitchens.

Water Extinguisher

Water fire extinguishers have a class A rating, making them suitable for fighting fires involving solid combustibles such as wood, textiles, paper and more.

Electrical equipment should NEVER be extinguished using a water extinguishers as water is a conductor.

AFFF Foam Extinguisher

AFFF foam extinguishers are effective on class A & class B fires as the foam agent helps to prevent the fire re-igniting.

Some foam extinguishers have been dielectrically tested up to 35000 volts (35kV) and can be used on or near electrical fires.

Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher

Carbon dioxide extinguishers (CO2 extinguishers) were originally intended for use on flammable liquid fires and have therefore been classified with a class B rating.

They are ideal for electric fires, as carbon dioxide does not conduct electricity, and won’t leave behind any harmful residue.

ABC Powder Extinguisher

ABC powder extinguishers are extremely versatile and can be used on class A, class B, Class C & electrical fires.

These extinguishers are available in sizes ranging from 1-9 KG and are ideal for application in environments containing mixed fire risks. However, powder extinguishers aren’t recommended for indoor use due to the risk of inhalation.

Water Mist Extinguisher

Water mist fire extinguishers are highly effective on Class A, B, C, F and electrical fires, making it one of the most versatile extinguishers available for every type of fire except class D fires.

The unique design of the water mist extinguishers’ supersonic nozzle creates a microscopic mist curtain, reducing oxygen content.

Wet Chemical Extinguisher

Wet Chemical extinguishers are designed specifically for use on fires involving combustible cooking media such as burning oil and fat.

They have a class F rating, along with a special lance applicator nozzle. They’re also usually safe for class A fires, with most wet chemical extinguishers not safe for class B fires.

General Tips for Putting Out Kitchen Fires

  • if your oven or microwave catch fire, close the door and keep it closed! This will suffocate the fire, and eventually put it out due to lack of oxygen.
  •  If your oven continues to smoke like a fire is still raging within, call the fire brigade.
  • If you can’t safely put the lid on a flaming pan, or you don’t have a lid for the pan, use your fire extinguisher (Making sure it’s the correct one). Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire not the flames.
  • NEVER use water on grease fires! Water and grease don’t mix and so you’re potentially spreading the fire by doing this.
  • Don’t swat at flames with a towel, apron etc. this can fan flames and likely spread the fire.
  • if you can’t get the fire under control, get everyone out of the house and then call the fire brigade. Make sure everybody in your family knows how to get out of the house safety in case of a fire.