I recently got a Hospital Fire and Life Safety certification for my part time photography job, which is photographing newborns. Turns out, a lot of what I thought I knew about fire safety was wrong. While doing this course, I learned quite a bit about how to respond appropriately to all types of fires, including grease fires. Knowing how to calming handle a fire is important for your own health, and the health of those around you.
Here are a few common sense tips about grease fires:
1. DON’T ADD WATER. This will create a bigger fire that splashes everywhere. Each of the droplets that splash will carry their own tiny fires and spread everywhere.
2. DON’T MOVE THE PAN. Even if you think you have great balance, don’t risk the burns. Don’t even move it to a different burner, and especially not to the sink. Don’t attempt to throw it outside over concrete. Liquid fire can easily spill, tip over, or splash you, which will hurt a lot, and probably make you spill and splash yourself even more.
3. DON’T USE THE EXTINGUISHER. This can also cause splashing, which can send you to the hospital.
4. DON’T THROW STUFF OVER THE FIRE. Baking soda and flour are sometimes used to eliminate the oxygen, but they too can splash you. Especially, if the flour or baking soda has gotten clumpy.
5. DO TURN OFF THE HEAT. This seems stupidly simple, but if you get rid of the heat the fire will gradually reduce to nothing. It takes heat, oxygen, and fuel to make a fire. Without one of these elements, there will be no fire. The fire will also burn through the fuel (or grease), and then there will be no fire.
6 DO SLIDE ON A LID FROM THE SIDE. This will cut off oxygen from the fire, and if you slide it on carefully from the side, then you don’t trap a ton of oxygen in when you put the lid on.
7. DO CLOSE THE DOOR. If the fire starts getting out of control. Evacuate calmly and close the door on the way out. If you can’t reach your door, close as many doors between you and the fire and signal (yell or wave a sheet) to firefighters that you are inside. You have at least twenty minutes for a fire to get through a normal door, and an hour and a half for a fire door. Don’t unnecessarily injure (or kill) yourself by jumping (or unsuccessfully climbing) out of your building.
8. DO OPEN A WINDOW AFTER YOU CLOSE A DOOR. The smoke inhalation is usually quicker and deadlier than the fire. If you are unable to evacuate, close the door and open a window to help reduce smoke.
9. DO PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Make a mental note of where the stairs and exits are in the areas you frequent. Pay attention to where you are specifically, such as the address, floor, how many doors down, etc. so in case of an emergency you can give clear instructions.
10. DON’T GET COMPLACENT OUTSIDE. There maybe debris falling, and the busy streets and distracted drivers can be more dangerous to your health, than the fire.