We all know being a college student is demanding. Between the busy class schedules, the extracurricular activities, and the internships, students probably don't take much time to think about kitchen fire safety. According to Casidy Anderson, a community risk reduction officer with the Minneapolis Fire Department, 50% of house fires start in a kitchen. Since so many fires start while cooking, I sat down with Casidy to get the rundown on exactly how to prevent and put out a kitchen fire. 

Fire Prevention

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Whether you're just learning how to cook or you're an experienced chef, the first thing to know is how to prevent a fire. One of the most important things in preventing fires is to pay attention to what's cooking. Kitchen fires often start when a back is turned, so make sure you don't get distracted by the TV or Facebook while cooking.

It's also important to keep your cooking area clean and free of anything that could catch on fire, which includes making sure the oven is clear before preheating. If you're grilling, the safest place for your grill is on level cement, says Anderson (a porch could catch fire if the correct safety measures aren't taken).

Putting Out a Grease Fire

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The most common type of cooking fire is a grease fire. Grease fires most frequently start on the stove or in the oven, with 62% of cooking fires occurring on a stove top and 18% occurring in the oven.

If you're cooking with grease, it's very important to understand how to put out a fire, as this type of fire can be deadly. First and foremost do not under any circumstances try to put out a grease fire with water. This will cause steam to form, which can cause the burning grease to spatter, spreading the fire to any flammable surface, including clothing or the wall behind the stove.

To put out a grease fire, turn off the stove and cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid or baking sheet. If you don't have these tools, do not try to pick up the pan because you could burn yourself this way. If you don't have a lid, you can put out small grease fires by pouring baking soda on them. If the fire is too big to cover up, you'll want to have a fire extinguisher ready.

According to Anderson, fire extinguishers that are labeled as K or ABC are designed to safely put out grease fires. Stand a few feet back from the fire so that the pressure from the extinguisher doesn't push the fire onto the wall or the stove. Pull the pin on the extinguisher and sweep the extinguisher in a side to side motion while aiming at the fire. If the fire gets too big, it's safer to just get out of the building and call 911. 

Putting Out an Oven Fire

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Oven fires are typically easier to put out than stove top or grill fires, due to their air-tight space. To put out an oven fire, turn off the oven and keep the door closed. Most of the time the fire will burn itself out since it isn't getting oxygen or heat anymore. Keep an eye on the oven and if the flame appears to be shrinking then just leave it be. Once the oven has cooled completely, it's also a good idea to clean it out since it isn't the oven itself that catches fire, but rather the wayward food debris on the oven racks or at the bottom of the oven.

It's important to have a working smoke detector in your home, apartment, or dorm room. Anderson says that 70% of the deaths that occur in house fires occur when someone either doesn't have a smoke detector or their smoke detector doesn't work. 

While cooking is a great way to bond with friends, family, and your significant other, you should always be careful when making a meal. Although you now know how to put out a kitchen fire, I hope you never have to practice your skills.