My $400 mistake is reinforcing important lessons on fire safety


By Lisa Braxton

Even staff members of the Public Education Division of the National Fire Protection Association need a refresher every so often on fire safety behaviors.

I initially felt too embarrassed to share this, but because of gentle prodding from my co-worker, Karen Berard-Reed, I’m telling my story. Over the weekend, I destroyed my microwave oven. By the time I realized that flames were shooting out of the two gyros I’d put in the appliance, it was too late. Within seconds the inside of the oven was engulfed. I knew not to open the oven door. Before I could turn the oven off and reach to unplug it, the fire was out. But twisted and melted plastic rained down on the food and smoke poured out the vents. The digital timer on the oven went to black.

When I bought the gyros for my husband and me at a take-out place, I saw that each was wrapped in a paper plate. I didn’t realize that underneath the paper plates were layers of aluminum foil. I was in a rush to warm up food for our dinner. I should have inspected the gyros more closely. I shouldn’t have been rushing.

NFPA’s web site has safety messages about cooking and the Microwave Oven Safety tips sheet covers the topic of proper use of the appliance. It states:

  • Never use aluminum foil or metal in a microwave oven.
  • If you have a fire in the microwave oven, leave the door closed, turn the oven off and unplug it from the wall.
  • If the fire doesn’t go out, get outside and call the fire department.

My fire was out in a matter of seconds and contained to the oven. The biggest damage has been to my wallet, which is now $400 lighter thanks to the replacement oven I’m purchasing, and fees for the removal of the burned out oven and installation of the new one. I’m fairly sure I won’t make the same mistake again. I’ll think about safety each and every time I decide to warm something up.

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Source:: NFPA – Safety Information

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