9 Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Coffeemaker, Toaster and Other Kitchen Appliances
You could be toast if you commit one of these errors
Unlike your furnace or clothes dryer, which can set the house on fire if they malfunction, your toaster is pretty innocuous. The worst thing it can do is ruin your morning by burning your toast — right? Wrong.
Your toaster, along with your blender, your coffeemaker and your deep fryer, can get you into hot water (figuratively if not literally) if you make any of these common mistakes.
Mistake 1: Overloading your outlets. Are your coffeemaker and toaster plugged into the same outlet? Bad idea if you plan to make coffee and toast at the same time. Heat-producing appliances need a lot of electricity, and running two off of the same electrical outlet can overload the circuit and possibly blow fuses. (This isn't normally a problem with non-heat-producing appliances. “A can opener draws much less power than a toaster,” says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director at UL.) When making a meal, try to avoid operating cord-connected kitchen appliances at the same time.
Mistake 2: Leaving the coffeemaker on overnight. If the liquid boils away until the pot is empty and the unit is still on, internal parts may get damaged or even melt. Drengenberg suggests getting a coffeemaker certified by UL. “If it has the UL Mark, [boiling it dry] shouldn't be enough to start a fire,” he says.
Mistake 3: Slicing your finger on the blender or food processor blades. Thousands of people end up in the ER each year by doing this, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Injuries happen not only when using the machine, but also during handling and cleaning when it's not in use.
Don’t put fingers, knives, spatulas and other foreign objects into these appliances. If the unit comes with a “food pusher,” use it to push food into the bottom of the unit.
“Never put your hand inside a blender, especially if it's plugged in. Unlike food processors, most blenders don't have safety interlocks, so you could accidentally turn the unit on with your hand inside,” advises Consumer Reports. Instead of hand-washing the blender, they suggest adding soapy water to it and running the blender until the container and blades are clean, then unplugging it and rinsing the container under the faucet.
Above all, don't plug in the machine until you're ready to turn it on, advises the University of California. And unplug it when you're done.
Related: SafeBee’s Best Appliance Advice
Mistake 4: Wearing a scarf, tie , flowy top or jewelry while using a mixer, blender or electric knives. These items — and even long hair — could slip inside the unit and get caught in the whirring blades, according to the University of California . Even slow moving parts can entangle loose items and entrap body parts. Remove jewelry and loose clothing, secure your hair and save the tie for business meetings.
Mistake 5: Drowning your appliance. Never immerse the appliance in water. “You have a potential danger to the internal components, plus a possible shock hazard to you before it dries out,” says Drengenberg. Read and follow the safeguards and cleaning instructions in the owner’s manual.
Mistake 6: Using extension cords. Ever wonder why kitchen appliance cords are so short — sometimes too short to reach an outlet if you don’t have enough of them? In many cases, UL safety standards mandate keeping them short.
“We don't want cords running all over the kitchen,” says Drengenberg. “It can get burned on the stove, you can cut it with a knife.” If your kitchen lacks enough outlets, resist the temptation to rely on extension cords. Try to arrange your counters so the appliance is close to an outlet, but if you can't, have an electrician install more outlets.
Don't let a cord hang over the edge of the counter, especially if it’s connected to an appliance filled with oil. Kids can pull on them, sending the unit over the edge. “Hot oil burning a child's face can be a life-changing, disfiguring injury,” says Drengenberg. Fortunately, newer oil-fryers include a “breakaway” cord designed to separate from the unit if tugged on.
Mistake 8: Putting wet foods into a deep fryer. When using a deep fryer, the old saying “oil and water don't mix” is especially true. Never let water come into contact with a hot fryer. Pat moist foods dry before placing them in the fryer. If they're frozen, remove any ice crystals.
Heated oil can exceed 400 degrees F. At approximately 350 degrees F, oil will turn water into steam that expands instantaneously, splattering the hot oil into the air — and possibly onto your skin — according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Mistake 9: Blocking vents. If you inspect your kitchen appliances, you may see air vents or openings in the back, sides or top. Keep these vents away from walls or other obstructions that can impede airflow. Also keep combustible materials, such as paper towels, away from vents.
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