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8 Safety Tips For Using Microwave Ovens

Get expert advice straight from US FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health Consumer Information

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Photography: IKEA.com (Main Photo)

Nowadays, just like a TV set or an air-conditioner, microwave ovens are a staple in every home. It is almost a part of our daily routine for prepping and cooking meals that using it is an instinct—even when we get a new unit, we tend to skip reading the manual altogether and just use it as we usually do. This might not be the best way to go when working with an electronic device! Keep your kitchen a safe space with these tips: 

1. Follow the manufacturer's instruction manual for recommended operating procedures and safety precautions for your oven model. Don't experiment when trying to learn how to work the machine.

2. Don't operate an oven if the door does not close firmly or is bent, warped, or otherwise damaged. Heat seeping through small gaps might cause an explosion. 

3. Never operate an oven if you have reason to believe it will continue to operate with the door accidentally left open. If this happens, call a repairman immediately. 

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4. As an added safety precaution, don't stand directly against an oven (and don't allow children to do this) for long periods of time while it is operating. Aside from trying to avoid accidents, it's best not to be exposed to radiation from ovens, too. 

5. Do not heat water or liquids in the microwave oven for excessive amounts of time to avoid superheated liquids (heating past boiling point). If you need warm water, set it at 30 seconds max.

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6. If superheating has occured, a slight disturbance or movement such as picking up the cup, or pouring in a spoonful of instant coffee, may result in a violent eruption with the boiling water exploding out of the cup. Let the heating finish and unplug the device. 

7. Clean the oven cavity, the outer edge of the cavity, and the door with water and a mild detergent. A special microwave oven cleaner is not necessary. Do not use scouring pads, steel wool, or other abrasives. 

How-To: Cleaning The Microwave

8. Some ovens should not be operated when empty or preheated. Refer to the instruction manual for your oven just to be sure. 

This snippet is from the article ("Catch A Wave") which originally appeared in the July 2007 issue of Real Living Magazine. Main photo is by IKEA

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