Most homeowners don’t put too much thought into how they use their major kitchen appliances on a day-to-day basis. The appliances feel familiar, and some basic safety precautions are probably built into most daily routines. But as the saying goes, you should always put safety first.
Every now and then, it’s wise to refresh yourself on some basic safety tips, especially when it comes to those big electrical appliances in the kitchen. Some precautions may just be reminders, but you might also learn something new to work into your overall household safety routine.
Hot Hot Heat
Any appliance that generates heat must be handled with caution, and few appliances generate as much heat as your oven and stove. One of the most important safety rules in this part of the kitchen is to always be prepared to put out a fire. That means making sure a fire extinguisher is always handy for out-of-control blazes, and keeping the baking soda close to extinguish grease fires. Using water will only cause grease fires to spread!
The most common injury related to the stove and oven is a contact burn, so you should always keep a first aid kit stocked nearby. Use thick, dry potholders to handle hot items, and exercise extra caution when small children are nearby. The handles of pots and pans should all be turned toward the center of the stove, since children can pull them down if they face outward.
And to prevent children from opening the oven door, it’s important to keep it locked. Many models have a child safety lock built-in, but for those that don’t, aftermarket locks are available.
Dishwashers also produce a significant amount of heat, albeit no flames. With dishwashers, the most significant safety risk is often the steam that escapes during a heat dry cycle. This often vents right out into the kitchen, where it could scald children or adults who aren’t aware the dishwasher is drying.
Be careful with stemware and delicate glass dishes, because they can break inside the machine. If you’re not paying attention when it comes time to unload the unit, you could unwittingly cut yourself. And if you’re unloading the machine after a heat dry cycle, some dishes may be too hot to handle -- especially if they’re metal.
Dinner on Demand
When choosing the convenience of your microwave, there are several key safety precautions. You should only use microwave-safe dishes and containers, making sure to always avoid metal dishes. And while modern microwaves are designed to prevent radiation leaks, damage to doors and seals may make this possible. Inspect your microwave regularly for these problems, especially if you have an older model.
You should also be extremely careful when heating liquids. Water and other liquids will boil when microwaved long enough, but they can also be heated far beyond boiling to a state where there’s no visible simmering. When moved, these super-heated liquids can explode out of their containers, creating a scalding spray.
Electrical dangers in the kitchen can go beyond your appliances -- if you think you may have faulty wiring, outlets or other problems delivering safe power to your kitchen, reach out to your knowledgeable local electricians for assistance.