In the UK there is a domestic fire every 8 minutes. Around 20 people are killed or injured every day from fires that start in the kitchen; one fifth of these accidents will involve chip pans, or deep fat fryer fires.
Cooking oil and fat fires are difficult to control or put out, due to high auto ignition temperatures. When fat frying several pints of oil are being heated to extremely high temperatures, the oil is an ideal fuel for a fire and can go up in flames causing terrible burns and serious damage to your property.
If you do choose to use fat, or deep fat fryers when frying, then make sure you do it safely. Taking some sensible measures in the kitchen and knowing how to deal with a fire if it occurs can save lives.
General Fire Safety
Make your home as safe as possible; choose an escape route including an alternative should flames or smoke be blocking the first route. Everyone in the household should be aware of these means of escape and they should know where keys for doors and windows are kept.
Smoke alarms should be installed and checked regularly; batteries should be replaced when needed.
In The Kitchen
Have fire extinguishers or fire blankets at hand in your kitchen and know how to use them properly. If you are using an electric fryer, make sure the electrical cord is in a safe position. Don’t leave it anywhere where it can be pulled or tripped over, causing the fryer to spill, or tumble on top of anyone.
Don’t leave pans unattended and make sure the handles don’t extend over any other burners on your cooker. Don’t leave pan handles sticking out from your cooker. They can snag on clothes and be knocked over. Children can be curious and may spill fat over the cooker, or even worse, themselves.
Before using a deep fat fryer ask yourself if you really need to. Think about safer alternatives, like oven chips, or thermostatically controlled fryers.
Cooking With Fat or Oil
When cooking with fat or oil there are some ways you can make it as safe as possible:
- A chip pan should never be more than a third full of oil
- Be careful when adding food. If the fat is too hot, or there are pockets of liquid in the food, hot fat will spray about and can cause nasty burns.
- Dry the food if possible, before putting it in the fat.
- Use a small piece of bread or potato to test the temperature if it crisps quickly the oil is hot enough for cooking.
- If the oil starts to smoke, don’t put food in, turn off the heat and leave to cool.
- Don’t be tempted to use a fat fryer, or chip pan if you have consumed alcohol.
- Never leave your pan unattended. Even if the phone, or doorbell rings.
What to Do If a Fire Starts
If the pan catches fire don’t try and move it. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so, but don’t lean over the fire to get to the controls. Try to extinguish the fire by placing a fire blanket over the burning pan, or by using a fire extinguisher. It’s important if you are using an extinguisher that you use one that is a dry powder or carbon dioxide type.
Don’t put water on a fat fire; the fat will explode causing a fireball. If it is an electrical fire pull the plug out, or switch off the power supply at the mains.
Make sure you get everyone out of the house safely, and then dial 999 to contact the Fire Services.