So you forget to turn off your oven after roasting chicken? Or did you put your brisket in the oven to simmer and completely forget to take it out?
Of course, you must have freaked out after realizing that your oven was on for an extended period. Well, your fear is justified! It is not safe to leave your oven on for long hours since it can catch fire.
In addition, you will eventually damage your appliance because too much heat can melt your oven’s dials and other components.
Because we care for your safety, we have explained the potential hazards of leaving your oven on for long hours, how to extinguish an oven fire, protective mechanisms for oven fires and much more!
Is It Unsafe To Leave The Oven On?
Whether an electric or gas oven, it is unsafe to leave it on for long hours. While electric ovens can overheat and lead to a fire if left on for long hours, leaving a gas oven unattended can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dangers In Leaving Your Electric Oven On
Here are a few dangers of leaving your electric oven on:
The Temperature Factor
Whether you can keep your oven running for long hours depends largely depends on the temperature at which it operates. The risk of leaving the oven on increases with the level of its temperature.
In most circumstances, you can safely leave your gas or electric oven at around 212°F.
Nevertheless, there is a possibility of malfunction with an increase in unattended running time.
Some foods, such as brisket and ribs, need to be slow cooked at a low to moderate temperature for a few hours. This help to release their juices and make them tender.
However, sometimes, these foods get overcooked, due to which their nutritional value decreases, thereby declining their quality.
Since most ovens contain electric elements, they can easily overheat and lead to a fire. Also, if you have a gas oven, then running it for long many hours may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Moreover, leaving your oven on with small kids or pets at home is also risky.
Dangers In Leaving Your Gas Oven On
Leaving your gas oven on is an unsafe idea. When left running for long hours, gas ovens can release carbon monoxide into the air and cause serious health problems such as nausea, headache, dizziness, breathing difficulty, blurred vision, etc. Carbon monoxide is a gas that doesn’t has any taste or color and can reach toxic levels.
Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Leaving The Oven On?
Yes, leaving your gas oven on can increase your risk of getting carbon monoxide poisoning and thereby, lead to various symptoms, which we have already mentioned above.
Moreover, carbon monoxide can reach toxic levels in just a few hours. In extreme cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can also make a person suffocate to death.
In most cases, it is not possible to detect if a person has carbon monoxide poisoning since the symptoms are very common.
Leaving The Oven Door Open For Heat
The idea of heating your home with an oven can be tempting on a cold winter night. However, we warn you against doing so since it can lead to hazards.
For instance, if you leave the door of your gas oven open, the oven will release carbon monoxide into the air and lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
On the other hand, leaving the door of an electric oven open can melt its dials and other electrical components and decrease its lifespan.
Moreover, the oven can overheat and malfunction, resulting in fire. Lastly, heating the house with an electric oven will consume more energy and thereby increase your electricity bill.
Will My Oven Catch Fire If I Leave It On Unattended?
According to The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one of the most common causes of fire risks at home is an unattended oven (causing about 40% of house fires).
However, the risk of your oven setting on fire also depends on what you’re cooking or whether you have an electric oven or a gas oven to a great extent.
For example, if you are cooking greasy foods and your oven remains at a high temperature for a long, it can easily set on fire since these are flammable foods. Also, if food particles drop on your oven’s floor, they can ignite.
Moreover, if you have an electric oven and leave it on for a long time, its heating components, such as coils and wires, will get overheated and lead to a fire.
What Increases The Risk For An Oven Fire?
Below are some common situations that can increase the risk of oven fires:
- Switching the oven on or off unknowingly.
- Cooking very oily or greasy foods in the oven often.
- Not cleaning the oven properly and frequently.
- Using utensils that are not unsuitable for an oven.
- Leaving the oven unattended for long hours.
- Malfunction in the oven, such as sparks in its electric components and wires.
- Setting the heat detector or alarm incorrectly.
How To Use Your Oven To Avoid A Fire?
While you can always get heat detectors and alarms installed to prevent the risk of oven fires, we have mentioned some more preventive measures below that you can follow:
- Always clean your oven after cooking. Also, clean it according to the instructions written in the manual.
- While cooking greasy foods, use a covered pan to avoid spilling oil.
- If you have a gas oven, replace the gas line when it is old.
- Put a larger tray beneath the tray where you are baking muffins or cookies to prevent the batter from spilling.
- Place your oven away from flammable items such as towels, silver foils, wooden utensils, etc.
- Don’t leave your oven door open for long hours.
- Occasionally, ask a professional to inspect your oven.
How To Extinguish An Oven Fire
It would help if you always were prepared for hazards and, thus, know how to extinguish oven fires. That’s why we’ve mentioned a few steps for installing an oven fire, depending on whether you have a gas or an electric oven.
How To Put Out A Gas Oven Fire
Here’s what you can do if your gas oven catches fire:
- Turn off the oven and unplug your oven immediately. However, do not open the door; otherwise, the fire will escape the oven and even burn down your kitchen.
- If the fire originates from food stuck in the oven, use a large, wet towel to put it off.
- Never use water to put out grease/oil fires, as it can spread the fire by splattering the grease/oil. Instead, you can sprinkle a god amount of baking soda on the fire.
- Similarly, if fire escapes the oven, you can also sprinkle lots of baking soda over the flames to extinguish them.
- If nothing works and the fire keeps spreading, immediately call the fire department! Never compromise with your safety.
Warning: Never use water to extinguish the fire from your gas oven since the water will get boiled and, thus, can increase your risk of getting steam burns.
How To Put Out An Electric Oven Fire
Here’s what you can do if your gas oven catches fire:
- Turn off your oven and unplug it. For your safety, unplug all the nearby appliances as well.
- Keep the oven door closed to cut the oxygen supply of fire.
- Then, place a large, wet towel on the source of the fire. This will cut off the oxygen supply and help extinguish the fire.
- If you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, read its instructions carefully to put out the fire. In case you don’t have one, you can also toss a good amount of baking soda to extinguish the fire.
Warning: Never use water to extinguish the flames of your electric oven since water is a good conductor of electricity, which could increase the risk of getting an electric shock. Moreover, water can also damage your appliance.
Safety Mechanisms For Oven Fires
The following are some safety mechanisms you can take to prevent oven fires:
Installing Alarms And Timers
It is a wise idea to install an alarm or a timer and oven. For instance, if you set the duration of your cooking process, these timers will automatically turn your oven off once it is completed.
Fire Avert Electric Auto Shut-Off
Fire Avert is a very useful gadget that can prevent your oven from setting on fire. You just have to plug it in your socket. Once plugged in, it detects the smoke in your oven and turns it off before it catches fire.
Heat Detector/ Alarm
Heat detectors are devices that function by detecting a quick temperature rise. They comprise an alarm that is triggered when the temperature suddenly starts to increase. The best part about heat detectors is that they have a low installation cost.
1. How long can I keep my oven running without putting anything inside?
If your oven is at low temperature, the door is closed, and there are no food particles and debris inside your oven, it is safe to keep it running for up to 12 hours. However, leaving it for more than this period can cause it to overheat and lead to a fire.
2. What temperature is the warm setting in ovens?
Nowadays, most ovens come equipped with two different temperature settings – warm setting and low setting. The warm setting of an oven is usually around 170-200°F. This temperature is ideal for keeping food hot without cooking it further.
However, if your oven doesn’t have this (warm setting) feature, you can also run your oven at the lowest temperature, which can be around 200-250°F.
3. Will my oven turn off automatically?
Nowadays, a majority of electric ovens come with built-in automatic timers that turn the oven off once it reaches a pre-set temperature. Therefore, if your oven also has this feature, it will automatically stop running after reaching a certain temperature.
However, we recommend that you do not rely entirely on this feature because often, these timers may fail and make your oven catch fire.
In conclusion, whether you have a gas oven or an electric oven, we warn you against leaving it on for long hours. While electric ovens comprise elements that can overheat and catch fire, gas ovens can lead to even serious consequences such as carbon monoxide poisoning if left running for extended hours.
However, you can always prevent oven fires by installing gadgets like alarms or heat detectors and following the safety measures we have already mentioned in our article.
If you have other questions, please ask them in the comments section below. We will answer you shortly. We hope that you will follow all the above-mentioned protective mechanisms. Stay safe!