So I initially had another post set up and ready to publish but after this evening’s events, I had to quickly shuffle things around.
We all know the drill: you never appreciate certain things until it hits you in the face, right? Right.
Tonight, as I was cooking, I experienced a very scary incident that really jarred me but also gave me a stark reminder about how important it is to stay focused on certain tasks at hand.
I cook often – and usually multiple dishes at once – and have always been very attentive and efficient. Tonight, however, my inattentiveness got the best of me and I had to learn the hard way.
As I was cooking, I started heating up some oil and then started doing something else. Nothing uncommon about that – except that this distraction enabled me to completely forget about the said oil heating (at a rather accelerated pace) on the stove. In what felt like slow motion, I suddenly heard a “whoosh” and turned towards the stove and saw that the frying pan was engulfed in flames!
The image below is a close example of how it actually looked just to give you some perspective.
I must have gone into auto-pilot at that point (which can be good and bad depending on how you handle the situation). In my case it was all bad. I instinctively grabbed the frying pan (first big no-no) and then doused water in it (second big no-no). What happened after dousing the water was beyond surreal and the scariest thing ever: the water re-ignited the fire which then appeared to have spread underneath the wooden cabinets! I can’t even describe the feeling at this point, it was like being the depths of hell for a second and I just recall letting out this enormous scream.
And just like that the flames were out.
It’s like the devil’s wrath decided to tease me just long enough to rattle my cage. And boy did my cage get rattled! Grease fires are some of the worst and fastest-spreading fires and to think about how much worse things could have been in a matter of seconds just traumatized me.
Thankfully the cabinetry was garnished wood so the fire didn’t catch onto it, but if it had, the consequences could have been so dire.
Once all was said and done, I bawled like a baby, just overwhelmed by the severity of what had happened. I was truly fortunate and felt that God was watching over me.
I hope none of you ever encounter this when cooking, but as a precaution, here are some good-to-know’s in the event that the unexpected happen:
Your Frying Pan Matters: I do believe that part of the reason this happened was also because of the low-quality, light-weight frying pan I was using. I had used this pan several times before, but it was cheap and I should have known that it would not withstand the heat longer than a higher-quality, heavier pan
Never Use Water: It’s so easy to instinctively run for water when trying to put out a fire – especially when you’re in a panic, but in the case of grease fires, water is NOT your friend. Oil and water do not mix so why would that be any different in a grease fire? Think about it. By dousing the flames with water, you’ve just given the raging inferno more fuel to keep growing stronger. Instead, find a cover, another pot, a metal lid/baking sheet, something metal to cover the flames with so that it locks in the oxygen allowing the fire to eventually go out. Baking soda or table salt can also help in putting out small stove top fires.
Do Not Grab the Pan: Another mistake I made was to grab the pan which could have potentially allowed the fire to spread to my clothes. Never ever do this.
And while we are on the subject, for oven fires, never open the door. Always keep it closed allowing the flames to go out on their own. Opening the door will allow the fire to potentially spread.
Stay Focused: Lastly and more importantly, when cooking, never lose your focus. This was the biggest lesson I learned from this. Grease fires are caused when cooking oil gets too hot, so the best way to prevent them is to never leave your kitchen unattended. (Or as it was in my case, if you’re in the kitchen, that don’t lose your focus on the cooking and start doing something else). Oil smokes before it burns, so if you notice your pan start to smoke, take it off the heat immediately before it has a chance to catch fire.
With how much stuff we have in our heads with our busy everyday lives, I find that it’s so easy to forget things one minute to the next, but when cooking, however, there are simply no excuses: distraction of any kind can be deadly, so don’t ever take that chance.
So my dear friends, from personal (and quite traumatic) experience, always remember to take it down a couple notches when cooking for yourself and/or for your family. It takes a small misstep to cause long-term damage and it truly isn’t worth it. God Bless.