When most of us think of a grease fire, our thoughts automatically go to the kitchen stove. That's where most grease fires take place in a home. It's easier than you think to put oil in a pan to heat it up and then get distracted just long enough for it to get too hot, spit and splatter, or boil over and ignite. So many homes have been burned to the ground because of carelessness when cooking.
A grease fire can begin raging out of control in mere seconds once it starts. If there are flammable items nearby like hand towels, pot holders or a discarded apron, it can add more fuel to the flames almost instantly. If you don't notice the fire right away and you don't have a smoke alarm in the kitchen, you could have a disaster in no time at all!
How Much Damage Do Grease Fires Cause Annually?
Even though the exact numbers of grease fires in the home vary from year to year, almost 500 people a annually are killed because of them. The total amount of damage for all grease fires combined yearly adds up to nearly $900 million in damage to homes and personal property.
How to Put Out a Grease Fire
So often when someone has a grease fire to start in the kitchen, your first instinct is to panic. Everything you ever knew about putting out a fire can fly right out of your head. You know you have to act fast and panic is the last thing you need to do.
Many times if paper or a hand towel gets close to the stove and ignites, we will grab whatever is at hand, a wet dish cloth or another hand towel and try to beat at the flames until they go out. You may turn to the faucet and run water in a bowl or pan and try to douse it out, but neither of those things work for grease fires.
Can You Use Flour to Put Out a Grease Fire?
No, flour will do nothing to put the grease fire out. In fact it will likely only make it worse. The flour itself can ignite and add more fuel to the flames.
Can You Put Salt On a Grease Fire?
While salt can help put out a small grease fire, getting to it fast enough and having enough on hand might be a problem. At least a cup will be needed for a small fire. An entire box of salt holds a few cups or so, but the spout on most boxes are small and it may not come out fast enough to extinguish the fire quickly. You certainly can't use a salt shaker.
Can Sugar Put Out a Grease Fire?
Absolutely not! Sugar is very flammable and all you'll end up with is a bigger, sweeter grease fire if you dump that on it.
Can Baking Soda Put Out a Grease Fire?
Baking soda is one of the most known kitchen ingredients that will put out a grease fire. However, if the fire is large, a small box of baking soda may not be enough. If you are lucky enough to have a large box on hand, it could help save the day.
But, if the flames ever hit the ceiling, it's time to get out!
Can You Use a Fire Extinguisher On a Grease Fire?
Everyone needs a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. You don't want to place it too near the stove because any ongoing flames might prevent you from being able to get to it. You can use a fire extinguisher to put out a grease fire, but since there are different types of extinguishers, you must have the correct class of extinguisher for it to work.
What Type of Fire Extinguisher Do I Need for a Grease Fire?
Fire extinguishers come with either an A, B, C, D, or K rating. You can buy a small extinguisher or a much larger one if you want to. An A rated fire extinguisher is more for things like wood or paper, a B rated extinguisher is for flammable liquids and a C rated extinguisher is for electrical fires. You can purchase extinguishers that are rated class ABC all in one.
For grease fires, you want to have a Purple K type fire extinguisher. This fire extinguisher contains PKP, which is a dry-chemical fire suppression agent and it's 4 to 5 times more effective than CO2 and twice as effective as baking soda against class B fires, like grease fires. Class B fire extinguishers used to be recommended for grease fires, but this is no longer the case. Purple K extinguishers are more effective by far.
When purchasing a fire extinguisher, pay attention to the UL ratings on the fire extinguisher label when you buy it. This tells you how much fire the extinguisher is capable of putting out.
How Much Do Fire Extinguishers Cost?
You can purchase an average size fire extinguisher for between $20 and $80 dollars. Of course, the price you pay will depend on the overall class of the extinguisher and how large of fires it is capable of putting out. One thing is for certain, every home needs at least one or more fire extinguishers as well as smoke alarms, especially in the kitchen.
Manufacturers suggest that most extinguishers will last somewhere between 5 and 15 years. That's a large time span! Some fire extinguishers come with an expiration date, but that is not always a guarantee they will last as long as that. It is suggested that you check the fire extinguisher pressure gauge monthly to ensure it will work.
Does Home Insurance Cover Grease Fires?
If you have a fire in your home that is caused by grease, it should not be considered any different than any other fire that could be started accidentally in your home. You just need to be sure and always read your insurance policies carefully before you invest in them, that way you will know without a doubt what is covered and what is not. You should know the overall amount you are covered for as well because when you are dealing with a house fire, whether it's caused by grease or another issue, it will be a mess to clean up. Professional help will likely be needed to some degree.