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Safety Advice

Self-Cleaning Oven Fires and Other Winter Dangers

Over the holidays we went to visit family in Kansas City for a few weeks… all I can say now is that I’m glad to be back home for a while, lol. One day, however, I noticed that my mother-in-law had set her oven to self-clean and then left the house to run errands. In fact, I still need to say something to her about that. In any case, leaving the house while cleaning the oven in this manner is something that I would never do because of the very real concern of an oven fire.

Personally, I’ve seen my oven insides catch fire because the grease on the bottom of the stove reached ignition temperature. After all, the temperatures an oven reaches while self-cleaning are quite high! Fortunately, nothing bad came of it–I just kept the door closed and the fire burned itself out–but at least I was there to be aware of it and to respond if things got worse.

Think it can’t happen to you? Here’s a video of what can happen if you’re not careful:

I’ve always thought that cleaning the oven regularly so that grease and whatnot didn’t build up was a good thing. Truth be told, I doubt we clean our oven more than once or twice a year which, as it turns out, is the most we should be using the self-clean feature because doing so more often could be a serious problem, as the following video points out:

Now, the example if the video above about cleaning the oven once a week is a bit much and, as the man points out, you’re probably better off just using a can of Easy-Off instead if you can stand the smell and don’t mind using a bit of elbow grease.

Remember that ovens aren’t the only major fire concern over the winter months. No doubt, space heaters, candles, and inappropriate use of lights are also significant fire hazards. So, too, are dryer lint fires. Check this out:

Be sure to clean out the lint trap regularly and inspect the dryer vent for lint accumulation (even behind the dryer) at least once or twice a year to ensure there’s no buildup.

But that’s not all. Last winter when we visited Kansas City, my in-laws hadn’t cleaned out their wood-burning fireplace in a while–if ever–coupled with the fact that my brother-in-law was using newspaper to start fires, the house filled with smoke while we went to the movies. Here, again, we lucked out and nothing major came of it.

And, even though I don’t recall posting about it, my cousin had a problem with their gas HVAC system a year or two ago, likely because they didn’t have it properly inspected or serviced in a while, but I honestly can’t remember the details. The point is: get anything that can be potentially deadly to you and your family serviced regularly!

I know most people think nothing will ever happen. After all, nothing’s happen yet, right? But that’s precisely when bad things DO happen! Make it a habit to NOT leave major appliances running while you’re gone, including stoves, space heaters, the washer and dryer, dishwasher (because these have been known to burst a pipe and leak)… or really anything that simply doesn’t need to be on while you’re away. Do this each and every day and you’ll be that much safer, and more likely to have a house to come home to.

By Damian Brindle

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