Microwave Oven Safety Tips
October 4, 2017
Appliance Magazine, which monitors how many total units ship throughout the U.S., estimates that more than 12 million microwave ovens will be sold across the country this year. As a matter of public health and safety, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the manufacturing of microwave ovens and establishes federal safety requirements. One of the FDA’s requirements is that all manufacturers ensure that their products are in compliance with safety and performance standards to limit the chances of inflicting injuries to consumers.
Although microwaves are typically safe to use, in rare cases they can cause serious damages. Some consumers have experienced microwave radiation and others, burns. When microwaves are not maintained properly or used incorrectly they can be especially dangerous. It is important to notice if your microwave is malfunctioning, because in these cases particularly bad injuries can result. Some well-known signs that a microwave may be in need of replacing include:
- Burning smells, smoke and/or sparks – this indicates an urgent problem that should be dealt with immediately;
- Making a loud, buzzing, rattling or grinding sound when in use;
- Cooking food improperly: too hot, too cool, or not at all;
- The keypad – power setting, cook time, start button – doesn’t work properly;
- The door doesn’t close all the way, and:
- It’s over 10-years-old
If you are having any of the issues above with your microwave, you should discontinue using it right away and replace it to avoid further malfunctions or injuries.
Although microwave radiation injuries are rare, manufacturing mistakes can increase the likelihood of these kinds of exposure injuries. Microwaves use magnetic and electrical energy to power up, so there is a slight chance of exposure if large amounts of radiation leak through openings or gaps in the ovens’ seals. Luckily for consumers, the FDA’s safety and performance standards require that manufacturers heed extra caution to guard against this risk in particular. In the case of microwave radiation, symptoms can include sleep disturbances, insomnia, susceptibility to infection and painful headaches.
When it comes to injuries, there have been numerous reports of scalding, skin damage, blisters and burns. Removing heated water – and other liquids – from microwaves is often the cause of serious consumer injuries. Liquids can erupt from their containers after being overheated accidentally; in these particular cases, injuries are often to a consumer’s hands or face.
The FDA warns that super-heated water, or water that has passed the boiling point (100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit!) does not appear to be boiling to the naked eye. Consumers who don’t know that water is dangerously heated may pick up or move a container, causing the liquid to come shooting from the top. When other substances have been added, like sugar or instant coffee, the chance of eruption increases greatly. As a precautionary measure, the FDA recommends that users make sure to read product manuals and then determine how to best heat water or other liquids safely.
Another important safety tip is to make sure to always use a microwave-safe container. Ceramic, glass, paper and plastic containers can typically be used in microwaves, but in some instances the containers can melt. If melting occurs, consumers should avoid handling the container until it has cooled and also be careful of fumes. Always avoid putting tin foil or metal pans in microwaves because they can cause sparks, damage the oven and cook foods unevenly. If you are not sure what types of containers you can use with your microwave, check the instruction manual.
To help limit the number of injuries caused by microwave ovens, the FDA compiled a list of safety tips for consumers to take heed to. Some of them include:
- Stop using a microwave if it continues to run even when the door is ajar or open;
- Refer to instruction manuals before operation;
- Do not stand directly against an oven when it is in use, and instruct children to be careful also;
- Supervise children if they are using a microwave;
- Be wary of overheating liquids, and:
- Make sure to regularly clean your microwave with a mild detergent – avoid using steel wool or any other kind of abrasive cleaner.
To read the FDA’s full list of safety tips for consumers, please visit their website.
Consumers can rest a bit easier knowing that regulations are in place to limit how much radiation microwaves are allowed to emit, as well as requiring that they come with two interlock systems that stop them from being in operation when the door opens or a latch is released. Federal law also mandates that ovens come with labels explaining that they are compliant with federal safety standards as well as a list of user precautions. In rare cases, the FDA allows companies to forgo these labels if they have proven certain features to the administration directly.
Sadly, sometimes manufacturers circumvent federal safety standards to sell their products more inexpensively or quickly. This happens especially when retailers are more interested in making profits than protecting the safety and wellbeing of individuals. If you have sustained injuries from a microwave oven or own a model that is not in compliance with federal safety and performance standards, please contact a representative at our firm.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Defend Victims of Defective Products
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries from a dangerous or defective microwave or other products, please contact our Philadelphia products liability lawyers. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.