“Fire!” “Fire!” “Fire!” Those are words I never thought I would be screaming. But, due to grease fire in my kitchen, those words came from my mouth. Even though the kitchen fire occurred in my home a couple of years ago, my fire experience has been recently recalled because of the number of fires in our community lately.
The family was coming over for Mother’s Day dinner and I was preparing Baked Beans, and Broccoli Salad, and both recipes called for bacon. Two lbs. of bacon was cooking in a large kettle, when my brother-in-law, Dew, came to my back door to discuss my lawn mower. I stepped to the door and visited with him while he was examining my mower blade. At that moment, a back yard neighbor slipped into my garage to tell me of a problem with the fence we were replacing. Forgetting my stove was on… we all stepped to the back fence to discuss the issue.
After 15 minutes, we walked toward the house and I noticed my kitchen windows appeared black…. then it dawned on me. We ran inside to find the house filled with smoke. There were a few flames behind my stove which Dew put out. My cell phone, which was by the stove, was fried… and my portable phones did not work. So, I went yelling to the neighbor, to call the fire department.
The kitchen grease fire had already exploded before we returned to the house… thank heavens! Notice the tall kettle by the side of the stove. Imagine, all that damage coming out of that kettle. A kitchen grease fire can be devastating.
Lots of lessons were learned from this experience…. here are just a few:
1. Keep your wits about you when your cooking. Kitchen grease fires are the most dangerous. Most kitchen fires happen because of neglect! Guilty!
2. We shouldn’t have entered the home when we realized my kitchen was on fire. We could have been caught in the explosion… or we could have caused a back draft if there had been flames.
3. Portable phones do not work if the electricity is off. You need one phone in the house that is connected to a land line.
4. Even though the flames were no longer visible, I called the fire department because I was concerned that the fire had moved into the ceiling. But…don’t expect your fire department to have anymore wits than you do. When they arrived, they took their good time getting their gear on….and hooking up their hoses and grabbing their chain saws. I ask them not to shower the house with water until they knew if there was still a fire. No sense in doubling the damage by adding water. DUH!
5. Don’t let some nit wit place a large fan in the kitchen door so the smoke could be blown down the hall, though all your bedrooms and out your master bedroom window. No kidding… when I saw the smoke billowing out the master bedroom window… I thought the entire house was gone. Hummmm…. Perhaps a wiser move would have been to place the fan in the hall and force the smoke out the kitchen door.
6. Call your Insurance Company carrier immediately…. not your agent. Since the fire was on Saturday, I waited until Monday to get a hold of my agent. It slowed the up the cleaning up process by several days.
7. Find out who the very best Disaster Clean-up Company is in your area…. not only one who will do a great job…but one who will go to bat for your with the fire insurance company. I had the best! Utah Disaster Kleen-Up. If you’re in the Utah or Idaho area… I highly recommend them. There were kind, helpful and very competent.
8. Prepare yourself for delays. Approval for each process has to be made one at a time, because of insurance regulations. Triple the time they say it will take to complete the job. Sub-contractors are not always reliable in the timing area.
9. Know that smoke damage is as disastrous as the fire itself. All the walls and ceilings on my main level… the living room, family room, four bedrooms and two baths had to be cleaned, sealed and repainted. All carpets were replace. (The carpet nightmare was another issue.)
10. Be aware… that every object in your home must be cleaned or thrown away. They discard all plastics, because of the change in composition. The plastic becomes toxic. All of the kids toys, bedding, pillows, mattresses are thrown away… no questions ask. Insurance companies don’t want to be held liable for a child becoming ill.
11. Every item and object in your house is cleaned… down to the last pencil… by the disaster workers or YOU. Every item that needs to be replaced is put on an inventory list ….even down to a stick of butter and a chicken drumstick in the fridge. The inventory is taken by disaster workers or YOU.
Every item that needs to be replaced has to be priced at full replacement value. Guess who does it! Yep! YOU! That is unless you have great neighbors and friends who are willing to stand in Walmart for hours and check prices. I had over 50 pages of items and great friends and neighbors were there to help.
I had just updated my home owners insurance policy… just 6 months before the fire… to include “Full Replacement.” It means, destroyed items are replace at full value and not discounted because of age. I also had provisions that allowed for the disaster company to do all cleaning and inventory. However, disaster companies DO NOT do the inventory pricing. There is no choice… you are responsible for it.
12. Remarkably, I held my tongue when they said they were not going to replace certain carpets. As the process moved along… it was necessary to replace all carpets. In other words… “Be Nice.”
13. I had wall paper in my family room and I chose to have it painted rather than replacing the vinyl. Some fire insurance companies won’t let you pay for exchanges or up grades… mine did. They just off set the allowance and I paid the difference for the upgrades… like the lighting in my kitchen.
I love my new kitchen… but a fire is NOT the way to remodel.
My insurance was Met Life… and I was dropped from their plan. I found a new fire insurance company who raised my rate only $50.00 per year … for which I was grateful.
So… the moral of the story is…. Don’t leave bacon cooking while you chat with the neighbors. Be fire aware.
I’ve included a video that you MUST watch. It’s very short… but it shows what can happen if you put water on a kitchen grease fire. I was soooo lucky!
P.S. Utah Disaster Keen-Up said that unattended B.Q’s are the number one cause of fires in the summer time.
P. P. S. Make sure you have a good fire insurance company… it makes all the difference in the world. Check with your agent to make sure you’re adequately covered and have “Full Replacement” in your policy.
P.P.P.S. Now if I could only do as well with a before and after of me… I would be thrilled.