7 Important Tips to Putting Out Kitchen Fires

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated December 19, 2021
father and son cooking together in the kitchen
Photo: Jacob Lund / Adobe Stock

Your cooking skills should be smokin’, not your kitchen

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Even Food Network stars deal with the occasional kitchen fire. No matter your cooking skills, accidents happen. Not only do kitchen fires pose serious safety risks, but they can also cause damage to your home and leave you with the cost of fire damage restoration.

1. Learn How Kitchen Fires Start

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the leading cause of kitchen fires is leaving the kitchen unattended. Whether you zone out and forget to turn the stove off or fry with grease and place a flammable object like a towel you just wiped the counter with next to the stove, you may be battling a blaze sooner rather than later. Always pay attention when cooking to keep your household safe.

2. Get Your Family to Safety

Exactly how to put out a kitchen fire depends on what type of fire it is. If flames are running up the wall and spreading by the second, take your family out of the house and call 911 as soon as possible. If the fire is small, read the tips below on how you can put out the flames yourself. In either case, make sure your family members (and pets) stay far away from the inferno.

3. Turn Off the Heat Source

pot on stove with flame
PHoto: Kristina Blokhin / Adobe Stock

When you see a kitchen fire crop up, turning off the heat source should always be your first instinct. Because heat is generally what causes fires, it’s essential to cut it off as soon as possible. Don a pair of oven mitts to avoid burning your hands while removing the pot or pan that’s on fire. This alone could put out a minor stovetop fire.

4. Smother Flames in a Stovetop Grease Fire

If the flames keep coming after you turn off the stove, smother them to put them out. Your first instinct may be to douse the fire with water, but that’ll only make things worse. The liquid will instantly vaporize when it hits the fire, causing an uproar of hot, noisy, and dangerous steam explosions that could cause your entire kitchen to go up in flames. 

The best way to put out a stovetop fire is to smother it with something like a metal pot lid or cookie sheet. This cuts off oxygen, which fires need to thrive. You can also dump baking soda on it in a pinch or use a fire extinguisher.

5. Keep Doors Closed If the Fire Is in the Oven or Microwave

Handle fires that begin in an appliance differently, and always keep your phone handy if the fire grows and you need to call the fire department for help.

A fire in an oven or microwave is already contained. Opening the appliance door will only introduce oxygen, which fuels fires. Leave the microwave or oven door closed in hopes the fire will slowly die out without escaping.

6. Use a Fire Extinguisher If Needed

Stop fire from spreading by spraying it with a fire extinguisher from about an 8-foot distance. Once you pull the trigger to release the fire-extinguishing chemicals inside the device, sweep it from side to side to make sure it extinguishes every flame.

7. Assess Damage and Wait to Clean Up

After a kitchen fire, contact a local fire damage restoration pro to assess the damage. Take photos and call your insurance company to file a claim, if necessary. 

Wait to clean up until you get the go-ahead from your insurance provider. When it’s safe to do so, wear protective gloves, long clothes, and a face covering to protect yourself from unhealthy soot and smoke. Prevent your home from that burnt smell by leaving windows and doors open for a few hours (or as long as necessary) to allow the smoke to escape. 

If the fire caused heavy damage, you might even need to replace your kitchen cabinets and appliances. Hire a fire restoration service near you to guide you through the process.

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