oil on fire in cooking pan

Kitchen fire safety advice when cooking with oil

We recently read a shocking news story from the USA about the devastating effect a kitchen fire had on a young woman. The fire broke out in the kitchen in North Carolina when a pan of oil was left on the hob which had not been turned off.

Smoke alerted the victim that there was a fire and she rushed to the kitchen and turned off the heat under the pan. Unfortunately, in an effort to help, her fiancé opened the kitchen doors and windows in an attempt to reduce the smoke. The wind coming in through the open windows and doors caused the oil to catch fire resulting in horrific burns. You can read the full story here, but please be warned there are some graphic images of severe burns.

This prompted us to want to share some tips on how to deal with kitchen oil fires. As we understand that in some emergency situations our instincts may be wrong and taking a second or two to stop and think can make a real difference.

While opening windows may feel like the right thing to do when there is a lot of smoke, we know that fire needs air to burn and suddenly increasing the amount of air around the hot pan will only increase the intensity of the fire. So, the best thing to do is to deprive the fire of oxygen.

Another instinctive reaction can be to reach for the nearest water and throw this at the fire with the aim of extinguishing it. Unfortunately, and again in the case of an oil fire, this is also going to make matters worse as it can cause the oil to splash and may spread the fire further.

As in the story above the other thing that people will often try is to pick up the pan and try to move it outside or to the sink. There is a huge risk of spilling the oil if you do this, burning yourself in the process so we’d strongly recommend leaving the pan where it is.

Now we have outlined what to avoid, we have listed below the things you should do:

– If it is safe to approach, turn off the heat.

– Put a lid on the pan (this should be metal and not glass which may shatter)

– Wait until the pan is cool until attempting to move it

If you happen to have a class B fire extinguisher available this is safe to use on cooking oil as it is specifically designed for such fires.

Of course, prevention is the best safety measure, so if you can avoid cooking with oil on the hob we’d recommend you do, perhaps using an air-fryer instead. If you really must deep fry stay extra alert and always double check that the heat is turned off once you are done.

If you need any further advice on which fire extinguishers are suitable for particular fires please get in touch, we’d be happy to help.