I started a kitchen fire at my stove yesterday. Although I’m embarrassed by what happened, I’m also lucky. There was no injury or damage. Why publicly disclose this tale of I-should-have-known-better? Because I’m going to learn from my misadventure and you can too.
Evening was fast approaching and I had to rush to get dinner on the table. (Already you can tell this is not going to end well.) I was not attentive enough as I heated oil in a pan; it got too hot, and then I compounded the problem by throwing vegetables into the pan. The fire flared up, huge flames reaching from my much loved cast iron pan, all the way up to the exhaust fan, several feet above the stove.
Luckily I had the good sense to immediately turn off the stove off, but my next move was not so smart – I turned around to grab my baking soda from a cabinet at my back. The fire did die down after several scary moments, but the sight of the flames leaping out of the pan was a visual I won’t soon forget.
As I calmly told my husband the story later, I realized that I wasn’t prepared to deal with the emergency and that my response wouldn’t have been the best way to stop the fire even if I had found quickly found the baking soda and thrown it over the oil.
My kitchen fire experience is, unfortunately, not such an unusual experience. According to the National Fire Protection Association,
- Cooking is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
- Unattended cooking was by far the leading cause of cooking fires in 2006-2010. In half of the cooking fires that began with cooking materials (including food), cooking oil, fat, grease or similar substances were first ignited.”
What should I have done? I should have had a large enough lid at the ready and should have smothered the fire by sliding the lid over the burning pan.
You can bet that from now on, when I cook with oil or butter, I’m going to keep the appropriate lids handy.