kitchen fires

More on the Use of Fire Extinguishers After TEOTWAWEKI


Fires are extinguished by removing one of the three sides of the fire triangle. The fire triangle consists of fuel, oxygen and heat. These are required for a fire to burn. To extinguish fires you merely remove one side of the fire triangle. For example, adding water, removes heat, smothering the fire removes oxygen.

So how does this knowledge help you? It helps you to understand the principals of extinguishing a fire and lets you be a bit creative in your extinguishing methods.

Kitchen fires are one of the more common types and may be even more so after TEOTWAWKI. Fortunately, because you are usually in close proximity to the fires when cooking, they can usually be easily extinguished.

When a fire starts in the kitchen, you need to act fast to keep the fire from spreading. How you act depends on the type of fire that you have.

If you have a fire in the oven or the microwave, close the door or keep it closed, and turn off the oven. Don’t open the door! Removing the oxygen will normally suffocate the flames. If this fails to extinguish the fire, it may have already spread into surrounding materials, you need help or at least a water hose or a good fire extinguisher. See the following links for more information on fire extinguishers, Hand Pump Fire Extinquishers, What Type of Fire Extinguisher Do You need?Improvised Fire Extinguishers can save your home.

If you have a kitchen fire, use one of the following methods.

If a pan is on fire, put the lid on the pan and turn off the stove. Be sure and use an oven mitt or hot pad to keep from burning your hands. You are removing the oxygen when you put the lid on and partially removing the heat when you turn off the stove.

If you can’t safely put the lid on a flaming pan or you don’t have a lid for the pan, you may have to use a use a dry chemical or CO2 fire extinguisher. Aim at the base of the fire not the flames. Don’t stand to close; you don’t want the force of the fire extinguisher to spread the fire.

Remember, never use water to put out grease fires! Water applied to hot grease will cause the grease to splatter spreading the fire and maybe causing you to be burned.

If you don’t have an extinguisher and can’t use water, baking soda or salt thrown on the fire will work. Never use flour, which can result in a dust explosion and spread the fire.

Smother the fire with a wet towel or other large wet cloth, can be an effective method if there is no danger from burning grease. I once put out an engine fire in a car by smothering it with an old raincoat.

Don’t swat at a fire with a towel, apron, or other clothing. You’re likely to fan the flames and spread the fire.
Use your imagination. I once put out a small fire with a pitcher of cool aid I grabbed from the refrigerator.
Always allow yourself an escape route. Never let the fire get between you and the way out.

After TEOTWAWKI with no outside help coming, and probably the use of open flame devices like candles, kerosene lanterns and misc cooking devices, you will have to be much more careful than normal. Get extra fire extinguishers and you can set bags of baking soda near your kerosene lamps. Keep extra fuel out of the house. Refill your lamps outside. Make sure you have good heavy bases on your candlesticks. Teach your children about the dangers of fire.

If the fire is spreading and you can’t control it, get everyone out of the house.  If fire services are available, don’t waste a lot of time trying to control a fire before calling 911. I have seen people try and fight a fire themselves and forget to call 911 until to late. Make sure everybody in your family knows how to get out of the house safely in case of a fire. Practice your fire escape routes.


6 thoughts on “More on the Use of Fire Extinguishers After TEOTWAWEKI”

  1. “If you have a fire in the oven or microwave, close the door or keep it closed, and turn off the oven. Don’t open the door! Removing the oxygen will normally suffocate the flames …”

    Absolutely … don’t open the door; you’ll provide more available oxygen to the fire and potentially make it worse!
    However, the very next steps should be to grab a fire extinguisher and keep a close watch to see if you are going to need the extinguisher … and be prepared to call 911.
    It should be kept in mind that merely shutting off the oven or microwave might not cause the fire to go out. True, by shutting off the appliance, you remove the original fuel or heat source … but the smaller fire would still be fed by whatever contents are burning. And, your appliance is probably not air-tight. Don’t assume the fire will go out … make absolutely sure it’s out!
    Think of it this way … a gas (either natural gas or propane) appliance absolutely needs oxygen to keep the pilot light burning even when in what I’ll call “stand-by mode”. Therefore, there must be a constant supply of oxygen to keep that flame burning. This is especially true of older appliances.

    Be aware … and be safe!

    1. You are right in that the oven on a stove is not always air tight. But normally the fuel load is small enough that the fire rapidly burns out. I have never seen a fire that was contained inside an oven with the door closed spread to the house.
      Standing by with a extinguisher or even dialing 911 is not a bad idea. If you are going to err do it on the side of safety. Just because I haven’t seen it does mean it hasn’t happened.

  2. How about adding threaded adapters to your kitchen or utility sinks, where you could attach a garden hose? I’m thinking of a laundry or entryway mud room with a utility sink, and a hose hung up nearby. You could quickly connect the hose and have a greater water resource available in cases where water is an appropriate tool. The water supply spigot to a washing machine could have a Y adapter added so you could have the washer connected and a garden hose without having to take the time to screw on the hose.

    Perhaps a pail of sand or baking soda with a plastic feed scoop would be good as well. The scoop would allow you to stand off yet still apply a concentrated pile of suppressant on a fire.

    Howard, what would be your recommendation for extinguishing some common types of fires found around a workshop? For example: Spilling gas on a hot engine and it ignites? A pile of oily rags spontaneously combusts? An electrical short?

    What other common household supplies could be thrown on what types of fire? For example, is kitty litter effective on grease or electrical fires? Picking up the kitty pan and tossing the contents on a fire might be preferable to a burned up room or house.

  3. I didn’t mention garden hoses because I was thinking the water would be out. But you are right I should have mentioned it. I have a hose coiled up by my side and back doors that can reach anywhere in my home. All I have to do is turn the water on.

    A pail of sand is a good idea and was used by the British for extinguishing incendiary bombs during WW2.

    For your shop get a 5A10BC extinguisher, they are fairly inexpensive at big box stores like Costco. Look on the box and it will show the rating.

    I don’t know about kitty liter. I looked up the ingredients on the internet and they seemed to vary, the ingredients that they listed were non-flammable, but I would be careful. In a pinch If that was all I had I would probably try it.

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