A few months ago a dear friend went through a harrowing experience when her frying pan caught fire. The hob hadn’t quite turned off and a slither of the pan had been warming up whilst she slept.
Fortunately although left with a charred kitchen and blackened apartment nothing more serious happened. Over the past few days the same situation has come up again. A droplet of water in a pan of oil caused a nearby bottle of oil to catch fire and a torch-like flame was the surprise they found when returning but moments later into the room.
Again thankfully the outcome was optimum but it could easily have been so much worse. Reacting correctly is the key and that’s why I thought it pertinent to write about it this week. Above all, keep calm. Turn off the heat if you can or cut the kitchen electricity fuse if possible as grease fires need heat to stay lit.
If you have time, it is preferable to wear gloves. The easiest way to put out a grease fire is to cover it with a lid or another larger pan. With the lid on (and no heat), the fire will consume all the oxygen and will extinguish itself. Do not use glass lids, as they can break from the extreme heat of the open flame. You can also throw in lots of baking soda and or table salt as this cuts off the oxygen supply.
Do not substitute the salt of baking powder for alternatives such as flour as it doesn’t react in the same way. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES throw water on a grease fire. Although instinctively we think water puts out a fire it is the number one mistake when it comes to a fat fire.
Water is heavier than oil and it will sink to the bottom of the pot, overheat and evaporate quickly spreading the fire in all directions. Another common mistake people make is trying to move the pot with the fire to another location, like outside, where the fire is likely to do less damage. It’s a mistake.
Charging the pot with hot oil may cause it to spill and burn you or any other flammable item it comes in contact with. This is important so again; don’t try to move the pot. All the above is only effective for small fires and if in doubt telephone the fire brigade on 112 (or locally in Marbella 080).
Also important to remember is that smoke inhalation can cause permanent damage or worse and your life is worth more than even your most treasured items in the house so please don’t hesitate to evacuate your home. Please also remember that the professionals are always there to help, don’t be afraid to ask–whether it be about a fire or anything else; it’s OK to ask for support.
Thank you for reading this column, “From the frying pan to the fire”. For more, visit the Euro Weekly News website.