If you do not keep your microwave oven in good condition, it can catch fire. (Photo: Getty)
According to Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. But your kitchen might not be child’s play either. While you don’t necessarily have to crouch and roll every time you make avocado toast, your kitchen does have a number of potentially very dangerous items. And some of them may seem more innocent than they are.
Of course, your oven and stovetop can be dangerous as they could cook other things like your arms and legs in addition to your food. And you should always use caution when operating a garbage disposal, blender, or anything with a motor, especially if you’re wearing a long tie, scarf, or anything with slack sleeves. But there are other dangers that may not be so obvious. For example, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 22,500 people visit emergency departments at hospitals each year after being injured by falling large household objects, with 44% of those injured being children. Your kitchen probably has at least one risk of tipping and several things that can catch fire, and in this case “on fire” is not a positive term. In particular, there are four big appliances to consider based on what the three appliance repair experts who run the Appliances Made Simple website say.
1. Your refrigerator can tip over, catch fire or give you harmful microbes.
An unsecured refrigerator can tip over and crush you. (Photo: Getty)
Assuming you don’t have a TV, dresser, or giant Harry Styles statue in your kitchen, the most likely thing to tip over is your fridge. Your refrigerator is also probably the most used appliance in your kitchen because that’s where the food is kept. Frequent engagement means your fridge has more opportunities to do the rock ‘n’ roll thing. Also, your fridge is insanely heavy as it’s probably not made entirely of paper mache, rubber, lint, or some other lightweight material.
So it’s extremely important to keep your fridge safe, possibly wall-mounted like the folks at Appliances Made Simple recommend. It’s also not a good idea to put heavy objects on top of your fridge as they can fall on important body parts like your head. So find another place to put your anvils, bowling balls and iron-tipped garters.
Also remember that there is electricity flowing through the refrigerator, which means that faulty wiring or parts could potentially start a fire. Therefore, make sure that all parts of your refrigerator are in perfect condition. It may be nice to have an antique end table in your bedroom, but an antique refrigerator in your kitchen can be a different story.
After all, your fridge could be a home for many uninvited guests. No, this does not refer to relatives or friends who just don’t want to go. Rather, it’s about microbes like bacteria and mold that could be making you really, really sick. To prevent your fridge from becoming a microbial motel, keep the inside of your fridge as clean as possible and regularly throw out any food that may be spoiled or contaminated.
2. Range hoods and ducts can catch fire.
Range hood (Photo: Getty)
Yes, your stove can certainly catch fire. A gas cooker should be able to do that. But that spark from your stove can potentially reach anything nearby, especially if it contains flammable substances like grease. This includes the exhaust hood and ventilation systems that sit above or next to your stove. Such systems can become clogged with dust and grease and are highly flammable. It is therefore important to regularly clean your cooker hood and all such systems and to replace all filters frequently. You don’t want a hood-a, could-a, would-a situation.
3. Dishwashers can catch fire.
Allow the heating element of your dishwasher to cool down for a few hours after a wash cycle … [+]
Just because water runs through a dishwasher doesn’t mean it can’t catch fire. A dishwasher usually has heating elements and also consumes electricity. So the same advice applies here, to keep it clean and in working order. The guys at Appliances Made Simple also recommend letting your dishwasher’s heating element cool down for a few hours after a wash cycle before starting another. For both dishwashers and humans, being hot may be a good thing, but there is such a thing as being too hot. Also, the three boys advise against running the dishwasher overnight or at other times when you might not be around, as a quick way to see when something’s gone wrong. It’s not great to come back to a situation where the dishes are done but the house is on fire.
4. Microwaves can catch fire or burn you in more ways than one.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most injuries are caused by microwave ovens … [+]
By now you may be thinking that everything in your kitchen can seem to catch fire. Not everything in your kitchen can catch fire at any time. For example, your ceramic “Taylor Swift Meets BTS” shrine probably isn’t as ignitable. However, there is another appliance that could very well burst into flames if not properly maintained: your microwave. Yes, this seemingly innocent microwave is, in the words of Britney Spears, not so innocent after all. You probably know that metal objects like utensils and handcuffs should not be put in the microwave as they can start a fire. But wear and tear can expose wires and other parts, potentially leading to a fire.
Defective parts can also lead to other hazards. A door that does not close tightly enough can result in radiation escaping from the microwave. Well, microwave radiation is not the same as ionizing radiation, such as that emitted by X-ray machines or nuclear power plants. It is not clear whether exposure to low levels of microwave radiation has any adverse health effects. However, larger amounts can cause burns and cataracts. Also, no one said exposure to microwaves is a good thing. Therefore, the “Household Appliances Made Easy” guys advise regularly checking the seal on the door and making sure it closes tightly.
Then there are the foods, drinks, and anything else you can put in the microwave. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most microwave-related injuries are burns when people touch, eat, or otherwise come into contact with food, liquid, or containers before they have had enough time to cool down. It’s never a good idea to put piping hot stuff in your mouth. However, it can be tempting to devour this hot pocket a little too quickly.
A crowded kitchen can lead to accidents. (Photo: Getty)
The Appliances Made Simple trio consists of Adam Morris, an engineer with about a decade of experience, David Lewis, an engineering student, and Jason Hutchinson, an engineer with 15 years of appliance repair experience. As well as warning about these four bigger appliances, they’ve also issued general advice for all the small appliances in your kitchen, urging you to “keep your cords safely away from the edge of your worktop to avoid accidentally pulling them off the worktop.” This is especially important if you have children at home.” They also recommended “registering all new equipment with the manufacturer so they can contact you in case of recalls or bug detection”.
Again, this doesn’t mean you should never go into your kitchen or replace your kitchen with a bocce ball room. It simply means that you should keep your kitchen in good condition and be aware of any potential hazards. While you can do the “safety dance” in your kitchen if the dance is actually performed safely, just having avocados around doesn’t give you a false sense of security in your kitchen. In other words, your kitchen might not be the best place to dance to the “Sex Bomb” song while wearing a Deadpool mask that doesn’t have eyeholes.