Fire department warns against using dish cloth to extinguish grease fire

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 | 4:53 p.m. CST; updated 10:34 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet.

Specifically, do not use a damp dish towel to put out a grease fire on your stove, according to a news release from the Columbia Fire Department. This method, demonstrated in a video put out by the fire services in the U.K., is discouraged by the Fire Department.

“This method of extinguishing a grease fire is not recommended and, in fact, could have the same dangerous consequences the video is trying to prevent,” according to the release.

The right way to put out a grease fire is to smother the fire with a lid or flat baking sheet, the release said.

Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said grease fires are fairly common and are mostly caused by unattended cooking.

“People put something on the stove, then get distracted,” Sapp said. “It just takes a matter of moments for the grease to get hot enough to self-ignite.”

The release lists these safety tips to prevent grease fires:

  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Do not use a high stove setting to heat grease.
  • Always have an oven mitt and the right sized lid for the pan.

If you have a grease fire, the fire department says:

  • Never use water, baking soda, flour or sugar to try to smother it, as this can cause the fire to spread.
  • Don’t panic. If the fire seems out of hand, leave and call 911.
  • Otherwise, put the dry oven mitt on your hand, use the lid or baking sheet as a “shield” and gently slide the lid or baking sheet across the top of the pan until it's fully covered.
  • Turn off the heat and don’t uncover the pan until it has cooled for at least 15 minutes.
  • If you think the fire has spread, call 911 and allow trained firefighters to investigate to make sure no fire remains.
  • For more information, click here.

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