Do you and your children know how to put out a kitchen grease fire?

They are so fast to spread they can be deadly in an instant.

Here’s a video that shows an unattended grease kitchen fire spreading in 1 minute 39 seconds.

put it out

Here’s one that shows you how to put them out safely in seconds.

If you don’t know how, or if your children don’t know, watch these videos with them today.

A refresher never hurts even if you do know.

Grease Fire Basics

1. Never throw water on the fire. It will cause it to explode.

2. Don’t use sugar or flour either, it is combustible.

2. Never try to move the pan. This can make a bad situation much worse.

3. Smother it.

  • Put oven mitts on and watch your sleeves – a good reason to always keep oven mitts close by.
  • Use either the lid (sliding it over the pan) or a cookie sheet – something that is fire proof that will not allow air in. If you can’t find the proper lid, try one that is bigger but will fit snugly around the edge. The idea is to cut off the air supply.

4. Shut off the burner. Don’t attempt to remove the lid or pot until it is cool.

NOTE: The Columbia Fire Department has advised against using a wet dishtowel to put out a grease fire as shown in a video released by the fire services in the United Kingdom.


1. For oven or microwave fires, keep the door shut so that no air can get in to feed the fire. It should go out on it’s own.


Kitchen Fire Safety Tips from the NBC video.

1. Keep combustibles away from the stove – don’t hang or store anything that can catch fire near your stove and be sure to keep your oven and burners free of grease build up. If you have cupboards over or near your stove consider taking them down if possible. (the video shows clearly how they can increase damage and danger immensely.

2. Roll up your sleeves and use oven mitts.

3. Stay in the kitchen while cooking – grease fires can ignite and accelerate in seconds. Make it a rule. Just remember the song, ‘Stand by Your Pan’.

4. Keep oven mitts, lid or cookie sheet close by.

5. If you can’t put the fire out IMMEDIATELY, get out and call 911, particularly if you have young kids or others in the house.


I’ve included the video below as a demonstration of how painful and serious even a ‘minor’ incident can be.  Fire is nothing to play with, be sure to review the videos and have everyone learn prevention and how to safely deal with a kitchen grease fire today.

Many thanks to this young woman for sharing her story to help us not to make the same mistakes.

She had a grease fire while PREHEATING her deep fryer and tried to remove it from the home. You may not want to watch the whole thing about her wounds, healing and recovery process,  but the first minute or so she tells how it happened.

It’s a good lesson in how fast and easy things can get out of control – more than you would ever think.


Check out this slide presentation for general tips on fire safety. Have a look around and make one improvement in your home today. If you think you need to do more work, come back and do some more. It could save your life and that of your children. Remember, now is the time, not later.

Fire Prevention Slide Show


About the Author

Jan Ferrante

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  1. Dear Jan –

    This is a VERY IMPORTANT post.

    I think our first inclination would be to throw water on it. It’s almost instinctive.

    It is also a reminder that most of us – including me – do not have a fire extinquisher.

    It is on my priority list now. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Corinne, I agree.

      I do have a fire extinguisher but I do need to review how to use it. The video does mention not to use it on a grease fire as the force can cause the grease to spill but it is definitely good to have I think for other kinds of fires – such as burning dishtowels when using them for oven mitts – not that I’d know anything about that! Not a good idea!

  2. Holy Smokes!! This is something we all should know and if anyone knows someone, send this to a news site as well. I’m guessing any local TV station would publish this as they should..

    1. Thanks Mitch, it really is so important to be aware ahead of time, for adults and also I’m thinking kids that are home alone or at the age when they cook for themselves.

      It’s good that they do learn a lot in school about this stuff these days but just in case they weren’t listening, a reminder never hurts. I made my daughters watch the videos – first time I’ve made them read my blog!

  3. Ouch! Great reminder, thank you. We were always taught in England to use a wet tea towel over a grease or chip pan (deep fat fryer), but as you mention it may not be the best idea! Very interesting.

    1. Hi Joel, that is the video that actually sparked the idea for this post but then I came across the warning not to use that method and I had been wondering myself what would happen if it wasn’t rung out enough or if it was too dry and caught fire itself, especially if a person was nearby.

      I thought that the pot lid seemed the safest and didn’t want to confuse the issue so I went with that. Maybe someone might have some experience with using a rung out towel to share.

      I did find the video to be very clear and well illustrated with a great demonstration of what happens if you throw water on. Here is the youtube link for anyone who would like to see it.

  4. Great video’s. Also when cooking do not put the handles of your pans facing out. If you have small children they can pull it down on top of them.

    I do know what burns are like. When I was 14 we had a propane hot water heater that like to go out. One day when it went out my mother made me help her light it. I put the match on the pielet light and she turned on the gas. It did blow up on me burning my face and left hand that I was using. The only thing that saved me from scaring was that I ran to the sink and put cold water on my face and hand within seconds of this happening. the doctors were amazed.

    Yes, my mother felt terrible and never ask me to mess with gas again. To this day I will not light a barbque.

    Great post and one everyone should see. Thanks


    1. Hi Debbie, great tip about the pot handles. My kids are older now but I still turn the handles so that they won’t get accidentally knocked.

      That is so lucky that you thought so quickly. My dad drove a propane truck all of his working years (he started at age 15 without being asked for his drivers license, times have changed!) so we always had propane and it always made me nervous. I do light barbecues sometimes but I don’t like it even though they are quite easy to operate these days.

  5. Hi Jan,

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Many people forget these precautions especially fire precautions while doing the household chores. I cannot imagine the kitchen could be one of the most dangerous places at home!

    It’s good to learn that the only thing that could kill fire is when it lacks oxygen and in simple means, covering it. 🙂 The videos are MUST-WATCH.

    Take care!


    1. Hi Tyrone, it really is amazing how simple and easy it is to put one out if you know how.

      It reminds me of the time my husband blew up the engine on his truck – I forget exactly how it happened (I think it was a 1 ton) He ran back and forth with water in a panic until I told him to shut it off. He didn’t think of that! So by that time it was ruined and he ended up selling it which was too bad because he really liked it.

    1. Hi Raymond, holy cow! That was really lucky!! I’m glad that you were able to put it out before it got out of hand.

      I had a small fire in our oven one time. I had turned the oven on and didn’t realize there was something in it. My daughter came and told me and I thought she was kidding.

      She wasn’t! I didn’t know to just keep the door shut so I opened it and sprinkled baking soda on. I was relieved that it worked because I really had no idea what I was doing. It took a lot of cleaning up too because there was melted plastic – my husband had put a birthday cake on a plastic plate in there and some plastic handled knives – good thing we had lots of windows to air it out.

      My son and his friend caught our microwave on fire by turning it on empty to use the timer. It did go out when we left the door shut.

      Not a good idea to turn on an empty microwave!

  6. Wow Jan,

    Thanks for the excellent safety lesson!

    When I worked in the chemical industry, we had short safety meetings each morning and big safety meetings each month. We had fire extinguisher training each year, and more often if you think you needed the practice. We practiced putting out actual fires.

    With all the safety focus at work, I brought it home. Often my daily safety topic was a home safety topic. The largest cause of home fires in the US is clothes dryers. Between lint, high voltage electrical connections and heating elements that don’t turn off when the time is up, fires happen frequently.

    So, never leave your cooking in the kitchen unattended, and never leave your clothes dryer on when you leave home or go to bed.

    Smoke detectors in the kitchen and in the laundry room are also a must. Like the kitchen fire, if you can’t put out the dryer fire right away, call 911 on the way out the door. If you can cut off air flow to the laundry room by closing a door on your way away from it, do so. It will help reduce damage. Do not go back to close the door if you have gotten everyone out.


    1. If a grease fire is very small and is spilled on the stove, you can put baking soda on it until you smother it.

      But in pans, use a cover to smother the fire.

      Keep a good quality fire extinguisher in the kitchen but not to near the stove. The fire may keep you from getting to it quickly. I have mine strapped to the wall about 10 ft from the stove.

      Check the extinguisher every time we switch from daylight savings time to standard time in the fall, and every spring when we switch from standard to daylight savings time. If the gauge isn’t in the green area, replace the extinguisher immediately. That’s a good time to change all the smoke and CO2 detector batteries, too.


    2. Hi Sherri, do you have any tips on how to put out a dryer fire? I’ve heard that they are a hazard but I’ve thankfully never experienced one and wouldn’t have the first idea what to do. Fire extinguisher?

  7. After this, I’ll stay faaaaaar away from the kitchen 🙂 Just kidding. It’s nice to see (literally) that healthy cooking – grease-free – comes with twice the health benefits. Thanks for the simple easy-to-remember what if instructions!

  8. Such an important post.

    One of my best friends is a Fireman and several years ago – he ask, “Have you ever simulated a fire in your house and completed a fire drill test?”

    “No, of course not” was my asnwer.

    He made me complete one – with the whole family. And I’m pleased we did – the kids didn’t know what to do!


  9. Really awesome post Jan! And perfect timing – with a little one on the way, I’ve been growing concerned about these things. I just realized I don’t have a fire extinguisher in the house. Also, I’ve been wanting to replace all of our smoke detectors with new ones (and get the carbon monoxide detecting versions).

    You did a great job of offering all the info needed. I’ve already forwarded this post on to my mom and husband. He and I will need to do some shopping soon. Thanks!

  10. This is great info Jan. I worked in ERs for many years and have treated many burns from grease fires that were caused by trying to take the grease outside while it was on fire or as you warn about, throwing water on the fire. A foaming fire extinguisher built for kitchen fires can be helpful too. If the lid isn’t tight, you can foam the edges to put it out. Andrew’s comment about drills is really important. Knowing what to do and then doing it keeps panic low. It is wonderful to have everyone arrive at the “gathering point” in a real emergency and know they are all safe and that the practice worked out.

  11. Jan I called the boys right over to watch the videos and the older ones (age 11) were all “pshaw….we know how to handle a grease fire. We learned about it in Scouts.” And sure enough, they told me correctly what to do. Yay! The younger ones (age 7) watched the video and hopefully will remember what they saw, even though they’re not officially allowed to cook anyway. 🙂 Thanks for posting this, it’s very important!

  12. Hi there. I’d also recommend a cool product called StoveTop FireStop, a fire suppressor that looks like a tuna can and magnetizes underneath the venthood. When flame activated it pops open and releases a fire-suppressing powder and automatically puts out the fire so you don’t have to. For about $50, it’s a no-brainer.

  13. You picked a scary topic, Jan! Thank you for bringing this up. I have a bad habit of wandering away from the stove when I’m cooking or leaving things to cook whilst I shower. I will stop doing that. And I’ll remember to keep lids and oven mitts nearby too. Thank you 😀

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