The great British chip has a lot to answer for. Statistics show that on average 35 fires a week result from cooking chips prompting our Government to issue a warning that late-night fry-ups cause many of the 46 deaths a year from chip-pan fires.
More than 4,600 people were injured when they tried to make chips last year, with more than 30% of the injuries happening between 10pm and 4am.This is not unrelated to the unsurprising fact that men are twice as likely to be hurt as women when making chips.
So the scenario is the man of the house arriving home late and hungry after a few glasses of the amber nectar and putting on the chip pan for a late supper. Nodding off in front of the Telly, overfilling the pan with oil or throwing in handfuls of soaking wet chips or any combination thereof and you have a disaster in the making.
The advice as always from the Fire service is don’t panic – get you and yours out of the building and call the Brigade. Seems logical and is logical – but standing by whilst your hand crafted limed oak kitchen is consumed to ashes is not a natural human reaction.
What can you do? Well obviously the above – I would not wish to denigrate the professional's advice – but you can take some positive action and possibly limit the damage if you are prepared. Have a fire blanket in the house – easily accessible and close to the hob. Throwing this over the fire before it gets too big will smother it. Turn off the heat source and leave it for at least 20 minutes to allow the oil to cool below flash point.
You could also invest in a wet chemical extinguisher or the new ABF extinguisher both of which are designed specifically for fires in chip pans and deep fat fryers and are small enough to mount discreetly behind a cupboard door. They are designated by BSI as Class F extinguishers for the technically minded.
What you can’t do is throw water over the burning pan – it will explode. A wet tea towel used to be de rigueur but no longer – tests show that if it is too wet it will cause an eruption that will blow it clean off and if too dry it will burn just as well as the kitchen cabinets, so grannies be warned this is no longer the accepted wisdom.
Don’t use any other type of fire extinguisher but a Class F on the fire – they simply don’t work and water will make it 10 times worse – immediately!!
And finally if you have had a skin full and its 4am in the morning – rustle up a cheese and pickle sandwich if you are peckish. The worst that can happen is that you cut your hand off.