Experimenting new dishes in the kitchen can be exciting as long as you are aware of the safety rules. The scariest thing that can happen while cooking is your pan catching fire. It happens, and it’s most probably because you are doing something wrong. I remember the first time my seasoning pan caught fire, I was scared out of my wits. The flame was a foot high. Thankfully it went out when I switched off the flame.  But there are changes that it won’t go out. 
So educating ourselves the precautions wrens measures to take while cooking is very important. Because knowledge is power, right? The more you are aware,  the more confident you can be in the kitchen. 

First, let us discuss WHAT CAUSES a pan to catch fire.

Fats and cooking oils will ignite once they have reached a certain temperature or has come in contact with water or moisture. A fire is likely to happen if you leave oil in the pan unattended. Also the same can happen if your pot or pan is covered in grease. So it is equally important to scrub away the outer surface of the pots with a strong cleaner to remove any grease or oil buildup. 

Precautions – 

1. Don’t leave your cooking unattended. If you have to leave even for a minute, just switch it off. 

2. If you have pans which are coated with grease inside and out, it’s  a recipe for disaster. Try to scrub away any grease sticking to the pan. Cleaner pans, no trouble.

3.Don’t let oil smoke for long time. Once you see that oil is smoking hot, switch off the flame for a minute and then ignite. Smoke is the danger signal that fire is on the way.

4. Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. If you can’t, keep a big jar of salt nearby to help you in case of fire.

IN CASE OF FIRE

Let’s be prepared incase a fire broke out in your pan. First thing in your mind should be “DON’T PANIC”. Because when we panic we may do some stupid stuff which may worsen the situation. Stay calm and take action.  

Don’t –

1. Do not add water. This is the most silliest step which you may tend to do. But you will end up scalding or burning yourself.

2. Do not run with the pan. It will give it more oxygen to burn vigorously. Instead walk with it slowly outside if you have to.

Dos

1. Switch off the flame –  That’s the first step you should do. 

2. Try a Lid – If you can find a lid(not glass) cover the pan. This will smother the flames. Try to slide the lid over the flames rather than dripping it from above. If you feel the flame has gone down, using oven gloves slowly take the pan to an open space away from combustible materials. Give it some time to get to normal temp. Until you get an extinguisher do not open the lid. Wait for the pan to cool. If you can’t find a lid, try the below.

3. Add salt – Adding salt to a fire can help to absorb the heat out of the grease and can’t help in combustion. You need to dump as much salt as you can till you notice that the fire is out. This method works the best and is a tried and tested one. So always keep a jar of salt near the stove. It can even be your fire extinguisher some day.

Some say that baking soda works. But only on small fires. If your flames are vigorous and large,  you will need a bucket of baking soda which is not possible. 

4. A wet cloth – Dip a towel in water and squeeze out extra water. Throw this towel over the burning pan to cover it. The towel will withhold the water and give cooling effect to pan restricting oxygen flow. Do not add water directly. 

5. Use a fire extinguisher – Learn to use a fire extinguisher properly. If you use it incorrectly, there are chances that the fire can spread from the pan to the nearby materials. Some simple steps –

  • Remove the pin from the extinguisher. 
  • Point it to the base of the flames and not top of it.
  • Hold the handle and press the lever continuously. Do not let it go.
  • Spray horizontally back and forth until flames are extinguished.
  • Remember to aim low. If you aim at the top, the flames may spread.
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