By Dorothy Tucker

(CBS) — Have you ever turned on the stove to heat up oil for frying and walked out of the kitchen? If so, you are in danger of starting a grease fire.

Kitchen fires cause some 400 deaths and nearly 5,000 injuries each year.

One of the biggest problems is that too many people don’t know what do if they have a grease fire.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker talks to a fire expert.

In just a few seconds, a small cooking fire can erupt into a raging inferno. Unfortunately, many people are clueless when it comes to how to extinguish the fire.

“We see it time and time again — people doing the wrong thing,” Beaver Falls Fire Chief Mark Stowe says.

Jason Zeigler admits he did the wrong thing when oil for his chicken wings caught fire. He grabbed the pot to take it outside, but moving a pot adds oxygen to the fire, helping it grow.

“It flashed over and caught my arm and I dropped the pot and it come up on me. I was burned on my right arm and the right side of my face,” Zeigler says.

Don’t throw water on it. That’s wrong because water and oil don’t mix.

“It hits that very hot pan and immediately turns that water into steam and creates the fireball,” Stowe says.

As for throwing a wet towel on the fire, that’s wrong. Just like water, it creates steam that leads to an explosion of flames.

Flour also is a bad choice. It could cause the fire to spread more quickly.

So, what should you do? The best choice is really the easiest.

Grab the nearest lid, cover the fire and turn the stove off.

If you don’t have a lid close by, grab a cookie sheet

But here’s the most important tip: Leave the pan alone. If you remove the lid too soon, the fire could reignite.

You could also use a fire extinguisher, make sure it’s specially made for cooking fires.

Dorothy Tucker