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A person pushes a button on a microwave oven.

Microwave oven safety tips

Microwave ovens are one of the leading home products associated with scald burn injuries not related to fires.

Facts and figures

  • During 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,100 home* structure fires per year in which a microwave oven was involved in ignition. These fires caused an annual average of less than 10 civilian deaths, 150 civilian injuries and $31 million in direct property damage.
  • One in every six (17%) of microwave oven home structure fires cited appliance housing or casing as the item first ignited.
  • Two of every five (41%) of the microwave oven injuries seen at emergency rooms in 2012 were scalds.

* Homes are dwellings, duplexes, manufactured homes, apartments, townhouses, rowhouses and condominiums.

Safety tips for using a microwave oven

  • Purchase a microwave oven that has the label of an independent testing laboratory. Make sure to complete and return the product registration card. This way the manufacturer can reach you if there is a recall on the product.
  • Plug the microwave oven directly into the wall outlet — never use an extension cord.
  • Make sure the microwave oven is at a safe height, within easy reach of all users.
  • Open food slowly, away from the face. Hot steam or the food itself can cause burns.
  • Food heats unevenly in microwave ovens. Stir and test before eating or giving to children.
  • Never heat a baby bottle in the microwave. Since a microwave oven heats unevenly, it can create hot pockets, leading to burns. Warm a bottle in a bowl of warm — not hot or boiling.