- Fire blankets are safety devices made of fire-resistant materials that can smother small fires and protect people from burns.
- Fire blankets are especially useful for kitchen fires involving cooking oils, fats, or grease, which can be dangerous to put out with water or fire extinguishers.
- Fire blankets should be located in or near the kitchen, but not too close to the stove or other fire hazards. They should be easily accessible and visible, preferably on a wall with clear signage.
- To use a fire blanket, pull the tapes to release it, wrap the corners around your hands, and place it over the fire. Leave it in place until the fire is out and the object is cool.
- Fire blankets should be replaced after use or if they are damaged, worn, or dirty. They should also be serviced annually in commercial or public settings.
What is a Fire Blanket?
A fire blanket is a sheet of woven fire-resistant material, usually made of fiberglass or aramid fibers, that can extinguish small fires by smothering them and cutting off their oxygen supply. Oxygen is one of the three elements that a fire needs to burn, along with heat and fuel. By depriving the fire of oxygen, the fire blanket helps to put out the flames.
Fire blankets are typically packaged in a quick-release format for easy deployment. They are stored in a small, compact container, and when needed, you simply pull the tabs to release the blanket.
Fire blankets are used for a variety of purposes related to fire safety, such as:
- Extinguishing small fires: A fire blanket can be used to smother small fires before they become unmanageable. This is particularly useful for kitchen fires, such as grease or oil fires, which can get out of control quickly and are unsafe to put out with water or fire extinguishers.
- Protection during fire escapes: If a person needs to move through a fire or flames to escape, a fire blanket can provide a protective shield. The individual wraps the blanket around themselves to help shield their body from the heat and flames.
- Putting out clothing fires: If a person’s clothes catch fire, a fire blanket can be used to extinguish the flames. The person should stop, drop, and roll, and the blanket can then be used to smother and extinguish any remaining flames.
- In emergency first aid: In some cases, a fire blanket can also be used to treat burns by covering the burned area, which can help keep it clean and protect it from further damage. However, this is a secondary use, and the blanket should not be used as a substitute for proper medical treatment.
- In professional settings: Fire blankets are also used in professional settings, such as laboratories or industrial workplaces, where there’s a risk of small fires.
Why Do You Need a Fire Blanket in the Kitchen?
The kitchen is one of the most common places where fires can start in a home or business. According to Red Cross¹, cooking fires are the primary cause of house fires and fire-related injuries. Cooking fires can be caused by various factors, such as:
- Leaving food unattended on the stove or in the oven
- Overheating oil or grease
- Using flammable materials near heat sources
- Spilling liquids on hot surfaces
- Having faulty appliances or wiring
Some of these fires can be easily prevented by following basic safety tips², such as:
- Keeping an eye on your food while cooking
- Using a timer to remind you of your cooking
- Keeping flammable items away from heat sources
- Turning off appliances when not in use
- Checking your smoke alarms regularly
However, even with these precautions, accidents can still happen. That’s why having a fire blanket in your kitchen can be a lifesaver. A fire blanket can help you put out small fires quickly and safely before they spread and cause more damage.
One of the most common types of kitchen fires is grease or oil fires³. These are fires that involve cooking oils, fats, or grease that ignite when they reach high temperatures. Grease or oil fires can be very dangerous because they:
- Can flare up suddenly and violently
- Can produce thick smoke and toxic fumes
- Can splatter and spread if disturbed
- Cannot be extinguished with water or general-purpose fire extinguishers
Water can actually make grease or oil fires worse because it can cause the hot oil to splash and spread the flames. General-purpose fire extinguishers may not be effective either because they may not be able to reach the source of the fire or may create more hazards.
The best way to deal with grease or oil fires is to use a fire blanket. A fire blanket can cover the entire fire and smother it without creating any mess or risk of injury. A fire blanket can also be used to cover a person whose clothing is on fire, which can happen if they get too close to a grease or oil fire.
Where Should You Put a Fire Blanket in the Kitchen?
Having a fire blanket in your kitchen is not enough. You also need to make sure that it is placed in the right location for optimal fire safety. Here are some tips on where to put a fire blanket in your kitchen:
- Put it in or near the kitchen, but not too close to the stove or other fire hazards. You want it to be within easy reach, but not so close that a fire may prevent you from accessing it.
- Put it on a wall, preferably at eye level, where it is easily visible and accessible. Avoid putting it inside a drawer or cabinet, where it may be hidden or hard to reach.
- Put it near an exit or escape route, so that you can use it to protect yourself if you need to leave the kitchen or the building.
- Put it with clear signage, such as a “Fire Blanket” or a pictogram, so that anyone can identify it and use it in an emergency.
How to Use a Fire Blanket in the Kitchen?
Using a fire blanket in the kitchen is simple and straightforward, but you need to follow some basic steps to ensure that you use it correctly and safely. Here are the steps on how to use a fire blanket in the kitchen:
- Turn off the heat source if possible. If the fire is on the stove or in the oven, try to turn off the gas or electricity if you can do so safely. This can help reduce the heat and fuel of the fire.
- Pull the tapes downwards to release the fire blanket from its container. Grab the two tapes or tabs at the bottom of the container and pull them downwards firmly. This will release the fire blanket and unfold it.
- Hold the blanket with both hands from one edge to another. Try and fold the corners over your hands so they are protected. Hold the blanket in front of you at arm’s length, with one edge near your chin and the other edge near your knees. This will create a shield between you and the fire and protect your face and hands from burns.
- Carefully place the blanket over the fire. Approach the fire calmly and steadily, and place the blanket over the fire, covering it completely. Make sure there are no gaps or openings where air can enter and feed the fire.
- Leave the blanket in place until the fire is out and the object is cool. Do not remove or lift the blanket until you are sure that the fire is completely extinguished and there is no risk of re-ignition. This may take several minutes or longer, depending on the size and type of the fire.
- Call for help if needed. If the fire is too large or out of control, or if you are injured or in danger, call 911 or your local emergency services for assistance.
How to Maintain and Replace a Fire Blanket?
A fire blanket is a reusable device that can last for several years if properly maintained and stored. However, there are some situations where you may need to replace your fire blanket or have it serviced by a professional. Here are some tips on how to maintain and replace a fire blanket:
- Check your fire blanket regularly for any signs of damage, wear, or dirt. Look for any holes, tears, frays, stains, or discoloration on the blanket or its container. If you notice any of these, replace your fire blanket as soon as possible.
- Clean your fire blanket only if necessary and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some fire blankets may be washable, while others may not be. Follow the instructions on how to clean your fire blanket without compromising its effectiveness or durability.
- Replace your fire blanket after use or if it is damaged, worn, or dirty. Do not reuse a fire blanket that has been used to put out a fire, as it may have lost its fire-resistant properties or may contain harmful residues. Dispose of your used or damaged fire blanket safely and responsibly.
- Service your fire blanket annually if you use it in a commercial or public setting. If you use a fire blanket in a business or organization, such as a restaurant, laboratory, or school, you may need to have it commissioned when it is first installed and serviced every year by a qualified technician. This will ensure that your fire blanket meets the current standards and regulations for fire safety.
Fire blankets are essential safety devices that can help you prevent and control small fires in your kitchen. They are especially useful for grease or oil fires, which can be very dangerous and difficult to put out with other methods.
Fire blankets should be placed in or near your kitchen, but not too close to potential fire hazards. They should be easily accessible and visible, preferably on a wall with clear signage.