BUFFALO, NY-- Every five minutes, a home goes up in flames in the United States, and most of those fires start in the kitchen.
But there is a simple device you can get for under fifty bucks that could help keep your family safe.
It takes just a split second for a grease fire to take over an entire room, but you can actually put it out quickly if you do it the right way. There is also a new gadget you can buy that will do it for you -extinguishing the flames quickly and safely.
First of all, you should know that cooking oil usually contributes. It smokes before it hits its ignition point - which is about 750 degrees. If you remove your skillet from the fire at that moment, you can avoid the fire, but cooks are not always that aware.
Fire investigator Jamie Novak says it's when the fire actually ignites that problems usually begin.
"Number one problem people think is they have a grease fire, and they'll just grab it, and I'll run it over to the sink," Novak said.
That's a plan that often turns deadly. Victims are found burned in their kitchens - their sink faucets still running and their skillets thrown across the room. Aurora's Elaine Fowler suffered third-degree burns over 20 percent of her body trying to put out a kitchen grease fire.
"So it's basically from the knee down, all the way down to my toes," she said.
Fowler says her life changed while performing the familiar task of preparing dinner.
"I was making french fries with grease, and the grease just exploded and caught on fire," Fowler said. "And I tried to put it out, first by slapping it with pot-holders."
The grease spilled, a moment Fowler wishes she had back. Instead, Novak says she should have tried to smother the fire with a tight-fitting lid or another cover.
"Grab an oven mitt and a tight-fitting cover, slide it right over the side and turn the stove off. And leave it for 10 to 20 minutes because, if you don't, what happens is you take that cover off, and it starts right up again," Novak said.
If you do not have a cover close by, Novak says grab a cookie sheet or pizza pan and slide it across the lip of the burning skillet. Hold it down, turn off the stove and know that you've avoided an even bigger mistake.
Putting water on a grease fire is the biggest mistake you can make. One cup of water turns into 1,700 cups of steam and blows all of the oil out at once. That mistake can generate enough heat and flames to reach the back wall of a kitchen.
"That's why people need to know you never, ever, ever put water on a grease fire," Novak said.
It's also why a tiny canister could be a lifesaver in your home. Novak says it simply mounts in the vent hood over your stove.
"[The] stove-top Firestop extinguisher [mounts] over two burners, and you [can] mount one over these two burners," Novak said.
The canisters are filled with a fire-extinguishing powder. Novak says they work, and that they can save lives and thousands of dollars in property damage.
"They pop, drop the dry chemical, and now you as a homeowner are suppose to come in and shut the stove off," Novak said.
That little canister will put grease fire out.
If you'd like to purchase the device, they cost $44.
Here's the info on ordering from Lowes stores:
Commercial Sales desk and place an order for the product (delivery time is typically 5-7 days). The products are not on the store shelves. They are a special order product and will be shipped after the order is placed. Park of the explanation is that the products last exactly 5 years, and the manufacturer doesn't want them sitting on store shelves; however, they are working with Lowes to possibly have products in stock in the stores in the future.
Other online retailers
Jefferson Fire & Safety
7617 Donna Drive
Middleton, WI 53562
Louisville Fire and Safety
10908 Deering Road Louisville, KY 40272 502-933-5675