The kitchen is one of the busiest and most heavily-used rooms in your home.
When it comes to fires, it’s also perhaps the most dangerous. With
various fluids being used, such as oils and water, along with electrical
appliances, heat sources, and more, it doesn’t take much for a simple
mistake to lead to a potentially devastating blaze suddenly bursting to
life. When it comes to kitchen safety, knowledge and care can go a long
way, as can preparation should a fire ever start. Check out these valuable
tips for learning how to avoid electrical fires in the kitchen and how
to deal with one that starts.
What Causes Electrical Fires?
The kitchen frequently uses water, oils, greases, and other substances
alongside electricity in numerous situations. Your appliances all likely
run on electricity, including your refrigerator, garbage disposal, dishwasher,
and possibly even your stove and oven. While most of these devices are
designed to keep all potentially-sensitive electronics away from any possibly
damaging fluids, you likely still have exposed electrical plugs, extension
cords, and more running along your countertops.
It doesn’t take much for a kitchen fire to start. Perhaps the most
common type is a grease fire. If you ever work with hot oil on the stovetop,
you’re probably well aware of how dangerous this substance is. In
addition to having an extremely high burn risk, a single spark could cause
a grease or oil source to quickly ignite, becoming a massive and difficult
to deal with ordeal. This means you should be extremely cautious when
using electricity to cook. Regularly inspect your plugs and cords for
any signs of wear or fraying, and you should immediately stop using a
device if you find any exposed copper at all—the risk of a potential
fire far outweighs the cost of replacing a broken appliance.
Your microwave is a particularly interesting appliance in that it reacts
violently with any metal placed inside it. If you’re not paying
attention, it’s not difficult to accidentally stick something that
isn’t microwave-safe in there, and usually by the time you figure
it out it’s already too late.
If a fire does erupt in your microwave, opening the door should NEVER be
the first thing you do. Fires need oxygen to breathe, and opening the
door allows the oxygen to get in quickly, allowing the fire to grow and
spread, and your problem will only get worse. Instead, the first thing
you should do is unplug the device if possible and allow the fire to suffocate
itself and go out before opening the door. Before you do, be prepared
to dial 911.
Putting Out a Kitchen Fire
Putting out a fire in your kitchen is rarely as easy as throwing water
on it. In fact, in most cases water actually makes the problem worse.
If you have an electrical fire, throwing water on it will probably only
encourage more sparking and increase the chances of injury by electrocution.
If you have a grease fire, throwing water on it will only cause the grease
to splatter and continue to burn, potentially spreading the fire further
(after all, water and oil don’t mix).
If you have a grease fire in your kitchen, the best way to put it out is
to smother it and deprive it of oxygen. If the fire is contained in a
pan, the best way to smother it is to use a metal lid to cover the pan
and cut off the oxygen supply. If you don’t have a metal lid, a
large baking sheet will do the job. Just make sure you use oven mitts
or some other form of hand protection when you finally remove it. If the
fire spreads outside the pan, cover it with salt or baking soda to quickly
and effectively put the fire out. These substances are made from non-flammable
material, and will quickly cover and suffocate the fire from oxygen if
applied properly. Electrical fires can generally be fought the same way,
but you should always move to unplug the device first if possible. You
don’t want to keep sending electricity through a short any longer
than you have to.
Finally, every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher in it. If you don’t,
pick up a small Class B or Class ABC unit from your local hardware store
(they’re not very expensive). These devices are approved to fight
grease and kitchen fires because the retardant they use is dry, thus meaning
you won’t have to worry about splattering that you would otherwise
face with a different type.
Looking to improve fire safety in your kitchen?
Call Lightning Bug Electric today at (404) 471-3847 to learn more about the options available to you
and how we can set them up in your home!