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Microwave Oven Burn Prevention

Properly used, the microwave oven is safe and convenient for heating a variety of foods in a short time, but the microwave can cause scald burns if it is used improperly or unsafely.

  • Be careful when removing a wrapper or cover from a hot item. Hot steam escaping from the container as the covering is lifted can cause a burn.
  • Be careful when heating liquids in the microwave. Since the containers may feel only warm, rather than hot, they are sometimes handled less cautiously, resulting in the splashing or spilling of a scalding liquid.
  • Cooking eggs in the microwave can result in scald burns unless very specific precautions are taken. Check the microwave oven manual for specific instructions for cooking eggs, squash, potatoes and eggplant.

Foods unevenly heated

Food can heat unevenly in a microwave oven, which can cause serious mouth burns.

  • The jelly in a jelly-filled pastry may be scalding while the pastry is only warm.
  • Frozen foods may be cold or only warm in one spot and scalding in another.
  • When heating foods for a young child, check the temperature by sampling the food before allowing the child to eat it.
  • Microwave ovens vary in cooking power. Determine safe heating times and energy settings for your microwave oven.

Babies also at risk . . .

Heating baby formula or milk in bottles with disposable plastic liners may be risky, because the liner may burst. Also, holding a child in your arms while removing items from the microwave may result in serious burns to the child. Keep children at a safe distance from the microwave oven.


Microwave burn prevention tips

  • Read and follow the product/manufacturer's directions.
  • Be sure everyone in the home is aware of the risks associated with microwave use.
  • Determine the safe amount of time for heating any food or liquid to be given to a baby. The amount of food or liquid, the starting temperature (refrigerator or room temperature) and the specific energy setting will all influence the final temperature of the food or liquid.
  • Be careful when removing coverings or lids from microwave foods. Puncture plastic wrap before heating foods in the microwave.
  • NOTE: Some manufacturers caution against heating their products in the microwave oven.
  • Keep all hot liquids out of children's reach, and keep children away from the microwave and other heating appliances when removing hot foods.
  • Use caution and follow directions when popping popcorn in the microwave. The vapor produced in the bag may exceed 180 degrees F.
  • Using a baby bottle warmer, especially the newer models, provides a safer method of heating baby bottles. Be sure to read and follow the directions very carefully.

Who should use the microwave oven?

As a general rule, only those who have read and understand the directions should use the microwave oven.

  • Generally, children under the age of 7 may be at risk, unless they are closely supervised. Even children over 7 must be properly taught and supervised.
  • The child's height is important to consider. Children should be tall enough that their face is not directly in front of the microwave heating chamber when the door is open.
  • Babysitters, grandparents and other caregivers should be properly instructed in using your microwave oven before they prepare food or drinks for young children.
  • Young children can be seriously scalded as they attempt to remove heated liquids from the microwave oven.

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