According to Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. But your kitchen may be no walk in the park either. While you don’t necessarily have to duck and roll every time you make avocado toast, your kitchen has a number of potentially very dangerous items. And some of them may appear more innocent than they are.
Of course, your oven and stove can be dangerous because they could end up cooking things besides your food like your arms and legs. And you should always be careful about operating a garbage disposal, blender, or anything with a motor, especially when wearing a long necktie, a scarf, or something with droopy sleeves. But there are other dangers that may not be so obvious. For example, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year approximately 22,500 people have to visit hospital emergency departments after getting injured by large household items tipping over, with 44% of those injured being children. Your kitchen probably has at least one tip-over risk plus multiple things that can catch on fire, and in this case “on fire” isn’t a positive term. Specifically, there are four big appliances to beware of, 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 bad microbes.
Assuming that you don’t have a TV, a dresser, or a gigantic Harry Styles statue in your kitchen, the most likely thing to tip over is your refrigerator. Your fridge is probably the most-used appliance in your kitchen as well because that’s where the food be. Frequent engagement means that your fridge has more opportunities to do the rock and roll thing. Moreover, your fridge is freaking heavy since it’s probably not made completely out of papier-mâché, rubber, lint, or some other lightweight material.
Therefore, it’s super important to keep your refrigerator secured, potentially to the wall, as the “Appliances Made Simple” folks recommend. It’s not a great idea to place heavy items on top of your fridge either as they may fall on important parts of your body, like your head. So find some other place to put your anvils, bowling balls, and iron-spiked garter belts.
Also, remember that the refrigerator has electricity flowing through it, meaning that any faulty wires or parts could potentially spark a fire. Therefore, make sure that every part of your refrigerator is in good working order. It may be nice to have an antique end table in your bedroom but an antique refrigerator in your kitchen may be another story.
Finally, your refrigerator could be a home to a lot of unwelcome guests. No, this is not referring to relatives or friends who just won’t leave. Rather, the concern is microbes like bacteria and mold that could get you really, really sick. To prevent your fridge from becoming a microbe motel, keep the insides of your refrigerator as clean as you can and regularly throw out any food that may be spoiled or contaminated.
2. Cooker hoods and ducts can catch fire.
Yes, your stove can certainly catch fire. That’s kind of what a gas stove is supposed to do. But that spark from your stove can potentially reach anything close by, especially if it has flammable substances like grease. That includes the hood and ventilation systems sitting above or to the side of your stove. Such systems can get clogged up with dust and grease, leaving them readily ignitable. Therefore, it’s important to regularly clean your hood and any such systems and frequently replace any filters. You don’t want a hood-a, could-a, would-a situation.
3. Dishwashers can catch fire.
Just because a dishwasher has water running through it doesn’t mean that it can’t catch fire. A dishwasher typically has heating elements and uses electricity as well. So the same keep-it-clean-and-in-working-condition advice applies here too. The “Appliances Made Simple” guys also recommend allowing the heating element of your dishwasher to cool down for a few hours after a wash cycle before initiating another one. In the case of both dishwashers and people, being hot may be a good thing, but there is such a thing as being too hot. Moreover, the three guys advise against running your dishwasher overnight or any other time when you may not be around to quickly detect when something’s gone wrong. It’s not great coming 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.
By now you may think that seemingly everything in your kitchen can catch fire. Not everything in your kitchen is prone to go up in flames at any moment. For example, your ceramic “Taylor Swift Meets BTS” shrine is probably not that ignitable. There’s one more appliance, though, that could very well go aflame if it’s not maintained properly: your microwave. Yes, that innocent appearing microwave is, in the words of Britney Spears, not that innocent. Chances are you know that metal items such as utensils and handcuffs shouldn’t go into a microwave because they may spark a fire. But wear and tear can leave wires and other parts exposed, potentially resulting in, you guessed it, a fire.
Defective parts can lead to other dangers as well. A door that doesn’t close tightly enough can allow radiation to leak outside the microwave. Now, microwave radiation is not the same as ionizing radiation, such as the kind that comes out of X-ray machines or nuclear power plants. It’s not clear whether exposure to small amounts of microwave radiation has any negative health effects. Larger amounts, though, can cause burns and cataracts. Besides, no one has said being exposed to microwaves is a good thing. Thus, the “Appliances Made Simple” guys warn you to regularly check the seal of the door and make sure it closes tightly.
Then there are the food, beverages, and anything else that you may put in the microwave. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the majority of microwave-related injuries are burn injuries when people touch, eat, or otherwise come into contact with food, liquids, or containers before they’ve had time to cool down enough. It’s never a good idea to put boiling hot stuff in your mouth. Yet, it can be tempting to wolf down that Hot Pocket a little too quickly.
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 experience repairing appliances. Besides warning about these aforementioned four larger appliances, they also have issued general advice for all small appliances in your kitchen, urging you to keep “their cables safely tucked away from the edge of your countertop to avoid them being accidentally pulled off the worksurface. This is especially important if you have kids in your home.” Additionally, they’ve recommended “that you register all new appliances with the manufacturer so they can reach out to you in the case of recalls or the discovery of faults.”
Again, this doesn’t mean that 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 mindful of the possible dangers. While you can dance the “Safety Dance” in your kitchen if the dance is truly done safely, don’t have a false sense of security in your kitchen just because avocados are around. In other words, your kitchen may not be the best place to shuffle dance to the song “Sex Bomb” while wearing a Deadpool mask that doesn’t have any eye holes.