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Have you ever forgotten to switch off your oven after cooking? Or, have you ever put food in the oven and completely forgotten about it? You must have panicked after finding out that it was on for a very long period. What are the potential dangers of leaving an oven on the whole night or when not at home? We researched and compiled the following information.
It can be extremely dangerous to leave your oven on overnight or when not at home because of the following risks:
- A fire starting
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
Other than the potential risk of a fire because of leaving your oven on for long periods, continue reading to gain information on how to put out an oven fire in case one starts. Find out the mechanisms you can put in place to protect against a potential fire. Finally, we present tips on ways you can use your oven to avoid combustion, which could lead to a fire.
Is It Safe To Leave Your Oven Overnight Or Any Other Time?
Leaving your oven on for long periods does not necessarily mean a fire will start. A fire needs combustible substances or materials.
The inside of an oven contains non-flammable materials. Therefore, if you keep the oven door closed when it is on despite nothing being inside, it is unlikely it will catch fire.
However, this is not a 100% guarantee that nothing will happen, but the chances of a fire breaking out are low.
Nonetheless, why would you want to leave it on if you are not using it? Wouldn't your electricity bills soar high?
So, let's find out why we should not leave our ovens on for long, whether at night or during the day.
Risk Of A Fire Starting
First of all, electric or gas ovens built after 1995 have a safety feature that turns them off automatically after 12 hours. If you forgot to turn off your oven after cooking, or you forgot food inside, it will automatically switch off after 12 hours.
This feature is not in the older models, and so you are at a higher risk because it can stay on for more than 12 hours, which poses a significant danger of a fire starting.
Despite this safety measure being in place, the problem arises when the oven door is left open excessively. Even within those 12 hours, a fire can break out.
Still yet, some homeowners heat their homes using ovens, meaning they have to leave the oven doors deliberately open to let out the heat into the room.
Leaving the door open is very dangerous because any flammable material nearby could catch fire, such as kitchen towels or dishcloths. Before you know what is happening, the kitchen is engulfed in flames.
Lowering the oven temperatures thinking it is much safer to heat your home is not a solution either. All a fire needs are heat and combustible material.
Food particles or grease left in the oven can catch fire if the oven is left on for a long time when the door is open. Although, there is still a risk even when the door is closed. Likewise, food forgotten in the oven can catch fire if it overheats.
It's important to know that a fire can start in either an electric or gas oven. But gas ovens are at greater risk, and you will understand why shortly.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Gas ovens emit carbon monoxide when burning. In addition, a gas oven could overheat if left on for long periods, which could ignite a fire.
This sounds like a double tragedy because other than a fire starting, carbon monoxide can be hazardous to your health. It is a gas that is not easy to notice when inhaled until it is too late.
Carbon monoxide does not have a smell, making it difficult to detect it. It enters the bloodstream, taking the place of oxygen, and travels to the vital organs like the brain and heart, depriving them of oxygen.
How To Put Out An Oven Fire
We have seen how a fire can start when the oven is left on for too long. But what if a real fire starts? How can you put it out?
The following are some steps you can take:
- Shut off the power immediately and close the oven door if it was open.
- If the fire goes out after shutting off power, allow it to cool. Afterward, wash the oven thoroughly, removing all the scraps of food and grease, and any other particles, leaving it spotlessly clean.
- If the fire does not go out even after shutting off power, leave the house immediately and call the fire department.
You could use a fire extinguisher if you know how to use it. Otherwise, don't attempt to use it if you don't have any training on using it.
You might make matters worse without prior knowledge and training.
Mechanisms To Put In Place To Protect Against An Oven Fire
Human beings are naturally not always alert. That is why putting mechanisms in place are necessary. They alert us when our ovens are about to catch fire or in the incident of an actual fire. There are several ways of doing this, but we shall look at three, including:
Installing Alarms And Timers
You can install a timer and alarm in your gas or electric ovens like the Home Most kitchen digital timer and alarm below. It will automatically shut off your oven when the food is ready.
FireAvert Electric Auto Shut-Off
The National Fire Protection Association [NFPA] statistics show that appliances and equipment that generate heat like the oven and stoves are the number one cause of house fires.
A gadget like the Fire Avert shown below can avert a fire before it begins. It works by plugging it into an electric outlet. It can detect the smoke from your oven and shut it off before a fire starts.
However, devices can fail, and you will need to remember to turn off your oven when you are not using it.
Don't confuse heat alarms with smoke alarms. Whereas smoke alarms are fitted in most rooms in your home, they are not suitable for kitchens.
Heat alarms are the best for the kitchen. The alarm will go off when the temperature begins to rise, which is a warning that you should check out your kitchen.
However, don't overlook smoke alarms as they are equally important. Several smoke alarms can be interlinked. This is a great benefit.
After all, a person can be rescued from a burning room because someone else heard the alarm from another room.
How To Use Your Oven To Avoid A Fire
In addition to having gadgets in place to detect smoke before a fire begins, we have some tips on precautionary measures that you may observe to prevent oven fires. They are:
- Clean your oven after using it to warm or cook food.
- Use a covered pan for cooking oily food to prevent oil from splattering.
- Drain the excess oil from oily food every half hour.
- Clean out the oil after using the oven.
- Remove all leftover food after cooking.
- Try remembering to close the oven after use.
- Place a slightly bigger tray on the underside of the tray in which you are baking cakes or pastries.
- Occasionally call a professional to check your oven to ensure it is still in good working condition.
Fires cannot easily start in the oven because the materials inside are inflammable.
But, if you leave them on for long periods like overnight, a fire could start in either an electric or gas oven. The danger in a gas oven is even worse because of the carbon monoxide produced.
If a fire starts, you may try to put it out. But if it is too risky, it's best to call the fire department.
You can prevent these fires by installing gadgets like heat alarms or oven timer alarms. It's also important to know how to use your oven to prevent fires.
For more information on why you should not use your oven as a heater, click here: "Does Using The Oven Heat Up The House?"
Find out more on when to leave the door open and when you shouldn't by clicking on this link: "Leaving Oven Door Open After Baking?"