Hot! hot! hot! Improving microwave safety.October 15, 2020
The first domestic Radar Range microwave was introduced in 1967. Since that summer of love, microwave ovens have become a mainstay in kitchens around the world. And even though they’re over 50-years-old, most of us still don’t know how microwave ovens affect cooking safety. Microwave safety is especially important in college dorms and long-term care homes where residents might frequently heat up single-serving meals. Not surprisingly, there is a growing market for microwaveable meals. The industry is expected to expand from over $102 billion in 2020 to more than $135 billion by 2027.
Let’s put your main concern to rest: microwave ovens are among the safest types of cooking equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there was an average of 7,300 fires caused by microwaves, with just 120 civilian injuries based on its latest 2014 to 2018 data.
That’s not to say these technological miracles are entirely foolproof. As anyone who has ever burned popcorn or a potato in a microwave knows, leaving food to cook unattended for too long can lead to a charred mess.
In fact, the resulting smoke from overcooking in microwaves frequently cause “nuisance alarms” for firefighters. (In the U.S., fire departments respond to more than 2 million false alarms each year.) False alarms are such an expensive problem that many municipalities now charge building owners for the cost of a fire call.
While fires are an important concern for building managers, injuries caused by residents handling items heated in a microwave should also be considered in these litigious times. One study that looked at U.S. microwave oven-related injuries found that more than 98 per cent took place in the home. And the most common form of injury were spilled liquids that affected the victims’ hands and fingers. So the next time you decide to warm up your coffee, don’t forget to let it cool for a few minutes before opening the microwave door.
Another hazard faced by inattentive or distracted microwave users is exploding food. The World Health Organization reported that certain foods with non-porous surfaces like hotdogs, or foods made up of different materials that heat unevenly like eggs in their shells, may explode if overheated.
Luckily, companies like Pioneering Technology are on the case to make kitchens and cooking safer. Their newest product solution, SmartMicro increases cooking safety by interrupting power to microwave ovens at the first sign of smoke, preventing microwave fires and potentially expensive nuisance alarms.
Posting helpful reminders in common rooms with microwaves could help building owners reduce injuries from overheated food. An even more effective solution to save property and money would be relying on product innovations that help prevent fires and nuisance alarms in the first place.