Most of us use a Microwave Oven every day, and it’s easy to take anything that convenient for granted. Here’s a brief science lesson and some tips to keep you safe:

Microwave ovens transmit radiation that excites water molecules. If there are no moisture available, other less volatile molecules will absorb the radiation and begin to heat. Anything that has dried out can overheat and flare up. Metal items accidentally put in a microwave can also cause some pretty dramatic sparking that could lead to a fire.

Fire safety tips when using a microwave oven

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s installation and operating guide including the safety instructions before using a new microwave oven.
  • Don’t try to heat things that are not meant for the microwave. A quick place to dry your clothes? Not recommended!Microwave Oven Fire Safety Tips
  • Never use metal as this can cause arcing which can lead to a fire. The metal-edged bowls, metal foil or even twist ties in microwave ovens.
  • Recycled paper towel products often have tiny metal flecks that can cause sparks and flames. Only use in the microwave if the labels say it’s safe.
  • Clean the microwave oven after use, to reduce fire potential. Clear up the oven cavity and the outer edge of the hole. Always unplug the oven when cleaning.
  • Don’t burn the popcorn! Start with the minimum recommended time needed and build slowly. Some microwaves get the job done in less than a minute, and that burnt smell will be around long after the movie finishes.
  • Keep it tasty. Make sure your containers are microwave safe to avoid melted containers and the chance of chemicals being absorbed into your food.
  • Heating a wheat bags can cause fire risk, do not heat longer than manufacturer’s instructions and never more than 3 minutes and adding oils to wheat bags increase the fire hazard. Adding a cup of water in the microwave oven may decrease the risk of a bag drying out too much. Homemade wheat bags have a higher chance to risk So be extra cautious with these.
  • Do not heat flammable liquids like oil; it can develop a fire or explosion.
  • Still in a rush? Let your food sit for one more minute before removing and watch the steam escaping when removing the wrappers. Many burns have happened this way, and especially by children.
  • If there is a fire, switch off the microwave oven right away and unplug the power cord if safe to do so Never open the door of the microwave until you are sure the fire is out.

Microwave ovens are used every day at home and the workplace. Remember these appliances can cause painful burns and become a potential fire hazard.

Installing smoke alarms will warn and alert people of the fire, but it’s just as important to apply common sense to avoid it altogether. Make sure your family members or tenants know about their roles in preventing fire and keeping themselves safe.

Do you know someone who’s had a microwave mishap? Why not share this article with them?

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