Kitchen Grease Fire Prevention
Preventing grease fires is one of the easiest things we can do to keep our community safe. Following a few simple steps can go a long way to avoiding a disaster. There are two common types of grease fires in the kitchen.
Drip pan fires: Usually caused during the previous use when something is spilled into the drip pan. Due to the heat of the oven/stove, the drip pan cannot be cleaned until the burner and stove has cooled. Many people forget to go back and clean the drip pan, setting up a potentially dangerous situation for the next time the stove is turned on.
Within cooking pan: The most common reason for a grease fire is leaving a hot pan unattended. Monitor your cookware at all times. Follow the safety tips below to prevent grease fires, and how to manage the situation in the event of fire.
1. Before cooking anything make sure burner is cool and wipe up any spills in the drip pan and around the burner before turning the heat on.
2. Pay attention to heat ratings for cooking oil. Some oils can be heated more than others before catching ignition. If you’re cooking and the oil starts to smoke this means it is nearing the flash point, meaning it's close to catching fire.
NOTE: The easiest way to prevent your oil from catching fire is to start cooking at a low heat. Taking a few extra minutes to cook slower and safer will prevent fires. Additionally, burning your oil will not only emit unfavorable flavor and ruin the taste of food, it can potentially turn into (cancer-causing) carcinogens.
3. As soon as oil starts to smoke, carefully remove the pan from the heat source and turn the burner off. Beware the stove element continues to transfer heat even when the flame/heat is extinguished.
4. Avoid heating grease before putting food into it, especially at high temperatures. Food can fall quickly into the grease and make it splash out, causing grease burns to you or hitting the heat source and catching fire.
5. Use extreme caution if putting food into hot grease; use a utensil that will allow you to put the food into the grease without dropping and without your hands coming close to the hot grease.
6. Carefully clean spills as soon as they happen by removing food from heat source, turning off heat source and wait for burner to cool.
7. When deep frying use a pan or cooking container designed for deep frying that will allow equal space of the grease and food contents above what you’re frying. For example if you’re cooking chicken and the grease and chicken are three inches deep, the pan sides should be at least six inches deep.
8. Use a screen that covers the pan to reduce chances of splatters outside the pan.
9. If you’re a new or inexperienced cook do not attempt to deep fry for the first time unless you have an experienced cook with you.
10. Never add water to grease or attempt to put out a grease fire with water!!
Bonus tip: For oven-fires
- Leave the oven door closed (this will cut off the oxygen, starving the fire).
- Turn off the oven and allow the fire to burn out on its own.
- If it does not go out on its own, leave the living unit and call 911.
- If it does go out, only then open your windows.
- Carefully open the oven door (it will be smoky!) and remove the hot pan.
- Allow the smoke to clear before determining the cause of the fire, and make sure your oven is clean before next use.
Partnering with the city of Saskatoon Fire and Emergency services, the University of Saskatchewan recently completed a safety demonstration on campus to show how quickly fires can cause damage and create potentially dangerous situations for residents.