When it comes to oven safety, two of the most important things you need to keep top of mind are preventing accidental burns and fires.
Burns can happen to grownups and children alike when they touch a heated element, inside of the oven or an open flame in the case of gas-powered ranges. Fires can happen when food is left unattended, or an article of clothing, hair or even a kitchen towel comes into contact with an element or open flame as well. Another consideration for gas- or propane- operated stoves is leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Besides being incredibly painful, burns from an oven can result in minor problems such as scarring and blisters all the way to major incidents such as amputation and even death if severe enough. Depending on the severity of your burn, you may need to seek professional medical treatment.
It’s also worth noting that cooking fires are the leading cause of residential fires in the United States, and since they are almost always preventable, it’s important to practice certain safety measures each and every time you use your oven.
While they are generally considered safe when used with care and according to the manufacturer’s instructions, injuries can and do still occur.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) estimates that there were nearly 12,000 injuries to children under the age of 18 caused by ovens that were treated in hospital in the United Stated in 2013. They also found that 40% of household fires are caused by cooking appliances, including ovens.
The number of actual injuries caused by ovens is likely quite higher than this, as the data from the CPSC only looked at those injuries which resulted in medical treatment at a hospital, and minor injuries were likely treated at home or another medical treatment facility not included in the reporting data.
- For the most part, safety standards for ovens have been created by a mix of consumer groups, government agencies, producers, retailers, and suppliers and are completely voluntary on the part of manufacturers. Look for a sticker on your oven that tells you it’s been approved by CSA, ASTM, ANSI, UL, CPSC or some other such safety association. Be cautious of purchasing an oven made in China, as regulatory standards are much different there than in the United States.
- Look for safety features such as auto-lock, auto-shut off or time-controlled shut off to help keep your family safe. Other features such as cool-touch glass on the oven door and hot burner indicator lights for elements on the cooktop can also help to prevent accidental burns and fires.
- If your oven came with a warranty or registration card, be sure to complete the form and mail it in to the manufacturer. This way, you’ll be notified of any recalls or other safety information in the event of a problem with your model. Surveys done by Consumer Reports National Research Center show that most people seldom or never take this essential safety step.
- Have a trained professional install your oven and ensure you’ve made allowances for any space or other clearance requirements necessary for safe installation. Your oven should also have its own dedicated spot on your electrical circuit in order to prevent power overloads and other electrical problems.
- If you have young children in your home, installing aftermarket oven safety products such as knob stops, locking straps and other safety guards can help to keep them safe.
- Do not operate your oven if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or certain prescription medications. Generally speaking, if it’s not safe for you to drive while using, you shouldn’t be operating your oven under the influence of either.
- Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, use and cleaning of your oven, and don’t hesitate to contact them if you should have a question about something specific that isn’t covered in your user manual.
- Do not leave your cooking unattended, and make sure any spills are promptly cleaned as food particles and grease residue can cause fires. Position your oven racks before preheating the oven in order to avoid burns.
- Ensure long hair, loose clothes and jewelry is tied back or removed. Institute a “no-kids zone” around the oven in order to keep little ones safe.
- When cooking, make sure that you use a pot that’s the right size for the burner – you don’t want flames or the element to overshoot any pot or pan. Whenever possible, use the back burners.
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation before you begin cleaning your oven. The fumes from many commercial oven cleaners can be toxic and make you ill.
- Ensure the oven and stove top burners are turned off.
- If your oven has a self-cleaning feature, make sure the door is locked if at all possible to help prevent any accidental burns.
- Ensure any residue from cleaning products is thoroughly removed before you use your oven to cook again.
In Case of Fire
- A fire needs three things in order to burn: heat, oxygen and fuel. If you remove one of these elements, the fire will extinguish. Whenever possible, turn off the burner or oven in the event of a fire. Leave the oven door closed if the fire is in the oven.
- If possible, you should keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen in case a fire breaks out. Be sure to test it each year and recharge or replace when necessary.
- Do not put water on a grease fire. In case of a grease fire, you’ll want to either cover the pot or pan with a lid to suffocate the flames, or cover it with baking soda. DO NOT fan the flames with a kitchen towel and do not use flour to cover the flames.
- Do not remove a pot or pan until you are certain the fire is completely extinguished and the item is completely cooled.
- If you do not feel that you can safely get control of or fight a kitchen fire, evacuate your home and call 9-1-1 immediately.
- With the above tips in mind, in no particular order, here are 10 of the ovens we consider to be the safest, based on available features and average customer reviews and ratings.