A friend of mine recently experienced the horror or an oil fire in the kitchen that almost got out of control and burnt down the entire house. I am sure there are many homeowners out there who have experienced the fear of putting out an oil fire, but if you haven't here are some tips to ensure you handle the situation.
Hot oil left unattended can soon produce acrid smoke and catch alight when on high heat. If for any reason you need to leave the stove or hob, turn down the heat.
In any emergency situation, first and foremost it is important not to panic. If you panic you lose control of the situation and might not be able to take the action required to deal with an oil fire safely.
Every home should have a small fire extinguisher that is mounted where it is easily accessible for small fires, but the sad fact is that most don't. The only reason I have a fire extinguisher is because we hold DIY Divas workshops at my home and it is a safety requirement that a fire extinguisher be available.
So what do you do when you don't have a fire extinguisher?
- If the fire is still contained to one pot or pan and has not spread to other areas of the kitchen you can take action to put out the fire. If the fire has spread to other areas it is far safer for your family to leave the house and dial your local emergency services
- Immediately turn off the heat. Rather than try to find the right knob, switch off the stove at the isolator switch, which should be located close to the stove or hob.
- The first step is to starve the fire of oxygen. You can do this by placing a fire-proof pot lid or steel tray over the top of the pot or pan. Make sure the item is large enough to cover the entire pot and cut off oxygen to put out the fire. Stand well back from the stove or hob when covering the pan or pot and if you have oven mits or a cotton tea towel at hand, use these to protect your hands.
- If you do have a fire extinguisher handy, remember to aim at the base of the flames.
DO NOT attempt to move the pan or pot as you may accidentially splash yourself with hot oil.
DO NOT try to put out the fire with water. Hot oil and water do not mix and water will cause the oil to spatter.
DO NOT use a cloth to try and douse the flames as this may spread the fire to other areas.