A microwave oven is a common appliance you’ll see in the average Filipino household. Its convenience, ease of use, and compact design make it a staple in tasks like meal preps and reheating leftover food. Like any other heating appliance, however, the improper usage of microwave ovens can increase the risk of several different kinds of accidents, including burn injuries, scald injuries, and fire.
Compliance with microwave oven use and maintenance guidelines can mitigate these risks. Unfortunately, not all homemakers are aware of how to use them properly, and not all are equipped to spot potential hazards. To ensure your safety and make the most of your purchase, here are some safety tips to keep in mind when using a microwave oven.
Read and Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions for Use
All appliances come with an instruction manual that tells you how to use and maintain the equipment. Before using the microwave oven, read the manual first so you can use the appliance safely. Some of the information that you will likely find included in the manual are recommended heating times, technical information (e.g. model, voltage), and methods of use that present certain risks.
Most of the best microwave oven deals you get at reputable stores will also offer warranties that you can take advantage of. The booklet describing the warranty guidelines often comes together with the instruction manual. Make sure to read the warranty information to get the best care for your microwave oven in case repair is necessary.
Check for Any Damage
For your safety, don’t use the microwave oven if you notice that it is damaged in some way. Microwave ovens emit small, invisible waves—hence the term “microwave”—that cause food molecules to vibrate and heat up. The appliance is specifically designed to enclose these microwaves and prevent too much of them from leaking out. Hence, damaged latches, hinges, or seals pose a risk to users.
Don’t Use the Microwave Oven If It Can Operate While the Door Is Open
Microwave ovens have a safety feature in place that prevents them from operating when their doors are open. If you open the latch, they automatically stop the heating process, which decreases the risk of burns and other injuries. Hence, a tell-tale sign of a damaged microwave oven is when it continues to operate even when the door is open. If this happens, call the repairman immediately, and unplug the appliance until it is checked.
Use Microwave-Safe Containers
One key aspect of being a responsible microwave owner is using the appropriate containers when heating food. The safest materials to use are microwave-safe glass and ceramic bowls, plates, and other similar containers. Don’t use ones that are made of metal, paper, or non-microwaveable plastics. These materials could damage the machine, present as fire hazards, or cause chemicals to leach into your food.
Beware of Superheated Water
Water is superheated when its temperature reaches past its boiling point but exhibits no sign of boiling. When it is disturbed, the water could explode, which could result in the unsuspecting user receiving serious scald injuries on their hands. In more severe cases, people have also had scald injuries on their eyes and faces. To avoid this accident, you can add your instant coffee or sugar to the cup before heating, and just heat the water enough so that it doesn’t go beyond its boiling point.
Let the Container Cool Down a Bit Before Taking It Out
In connection to the previous point, it is generally recommended to wait a few seconds before removing the container out of a microwave. This will give the container ample time to cool down a bit while ensuring that the food remains warm. In this manner, handling the container becomes safer and you reduce the risk of hurting your hands. By extension, it also prevents other potential accidents, like dropping a glass container and breaking it.
Keep It Clean
Ensuring a clean microwave oven is part of keeping the appliance in optimal condition. Wipe down food splatters and liquid spills inside the microwave to prevent food residues from affecting the smell or taste of what you’re currently heating. To clean the microwave oven, wipe the interior down with an unsoiled cloth dipped in mild detergent and warm water. You can also use paper towels and other non-abrasive wiping materials.
Keep the Area around the Microwave Oven Empty
The microwave oven releases a lot of heat, so it is vital to keep its distance from other heat-producing appliances or other sources of heat. Don’t place it near kitchen stoves, toasters, and ovens. You might be tempted to stack up appliances to save space, but this only increases the risk of accidents in your kitchen. Covering the vents on top of the microwave oven is another big no-no. As a rule of thumb, don’t use anything to cover any part of the appliance. It can lead to overheating and you’ll run the risk of starting a fire.
Overall, using microwave ovens offer a lot of benefits in the kitchen, but there are things you need to be careful about. By following user guidelines and properly maintaining your appliance, you can avoid potentially dangerous practices down the line. In this manner, you can enjoy all of the perks of being a microwave oven owner while ensuring your and your family’s safety.