It’s a common theme in romantic comedies or television shows: hapless guy or girl gets a crush, tries to make the person dinner and winds up having to call the fire department after starting a kitchen fire. Unfortunately kitchen fires happen all too often in real life, and are among the top causes of homeowner’s or renter’s claims. Here’s some tips to keep your culinary creations out of the local news:

  1. If the fire is in your oven or microwave, turn off power to the device and leave the door shut. The lack of oxygen should suffocate the flames. Hope you’re not in the middle of serving Thanksgiving dinner, and contact the fire department if the device continues to smoke.
  2. If the fire is in a pan or pot, use an oven mitt to clap on the lid and turn off the stove. DO NOT move the flaming contents across your kitchen toward the sink unless you’re thinking of remodeling.
  3. If you cannot safely put the lid on your pan, or turn off the microwave or oven, it’s time to break out your fire extinguisher. This is not the time to realize the last time you saw your fire extinguisher was the day you moved in to your house in 1998. Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames, and sweep the extinguisher from side to side to coat the entire surface.
  4. If you have just realized that you haven’t seen you fire extinguisher since some time during the Bush administration, it’s time to call 911.  An appropriate substitute for a fire extinguisher is NOT your kitchen sink hose (grease fires get worse with water), however you could attempt one of the following:
    • Douse the fire in a lot of baking soda or salt.
    • Smother the fire with a wet towel or large wet cloth.
  5. A good rule of thumb for calling in the professionals: you can’t isolate the fire, it’s near electrical outlets, it’s larger than the size of a basketball, or it has spread.