How To Put Out A Microwave Fire
Most of us use our microwaves at least once a day without issue. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), microwave fires account for only 4% of all home cooking fires every year, making it one of the safest appliances in your kitchen! Even so, it’s still possible to accidentally start a fire in your microwave (just ask the many college students making easy-mac across the country!). Knowing what to do if a fire starts in your microwave can make sure you stay safe and prevent as much fire damage as possible in your home.
What To Do If There's A Fire in The Microwave
- Immediately turn off the microwave and unplug it if the fire isn’t spreading and you can reach the cord. This will turn the fan off and stop feeding oxygen to the fire.
- Keep the microwave door CLOSED. This may cause the fire to suffocate and put itself out.
- Call the fire department if the fire has a risk of spreading or won’t go out on it’s own.
- Throw out the microwave.
Common Causes of Microwave Fires or Disasters
Preventing a microwave fire is easy if you know the top causes of them. Be sure to not to do any of the following:
- Leaving food in the microwave for too long. When you accidentally leave your popcorn in the microwave for too long and step away, you may come back to a smoky, sooty mess inside of it. Maybe you put leftovers in the microwave and entered twenty minutes rather than two minutes by mistake and walked away, not realizing the mistake until you smell something burning ten minutes in.
- Is food sparking? Most of the time this isn’t a problem - Sparks aren't a sign of microwave malfunctions and aren't very likely to start a fire.
- Putting non-microwave safe containers in the microwave. Be sure to double check whether or not a new container is safe before putting it in the microwave (Like the takeout container from last night). Cheap or styrofoam containers may melt or warp and create a mess to clean up. Microwave warnings are usually printed on the underside of the container.
- Putting things in the microwave that absolutely cannot go in it. These items are highly prone to creating a disaster to cleanup in your microwave or could even start a small fire:
- Aluminum foil
- Paper bags
- Plastic bags
- Metal travel mugs
- Metal cutlery
- Paper takeout containers with metal handles (like Chinese takeout boxes)
- Certain foods like peppers, hard boiled eggs, or other things that may explode when cooking at a high temperature.
Can I keep my microwave after it had a fire in it?
Keeping your microwave will depend on how large the fire was, what caught on fire, and if any components of the microwave were damaged. If you forgot to put water in an instant ramen or easy mac and were able to turn off the microwave when it started to smoke, but didn’t catch fire, you should be fine to keep it. It may smell or be discolored but work fine. If there was an actual fire in the microwave, inspect to see if it was damaged by it. In these situations, we would recommend throwing it out and buying a new one.
How do I get rid of the smell after a microwave fire?
After a microwave fire, the odor coming from it may be enough for you to want to throw it out. If you want to try and get rid of the smell to continue using it, we recommend the following:
- Microwave a bowl with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and half a cup of water for 5 minutes, then let it sit and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes. White vinegar helps to neutralize smells and remove food stains.
- Use a clean rag to clean out any burnt food or stains from the interior of the microwave.
- Leave the door open to dry.
Does insurance cover the damages from microwaves that start a house fire?
Yes, your insurance company should cover any accidental fires in your home so long as you did not start it intentionally and it was not due to lack of maintenance.
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