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Featured Issue: Prevent Scalding
Microwave ovens are usually perceived by many families as "safer" than conventional ovens and stoves. In many families, children are permitted to use the microwave but not other heating appliances. However, microwave ovens heat foods and liquids to very high temperatures that can lead to burns from spills, splashes and release of steam.
Microwaved foods and liquids can reach temperatures greater than boiling without the appearance of bubbling. Stir and test food thoroughly before serving or eating.
The face and upper body are the most common areas burned on children. Hands, arms, abdomens and legs are more frequently injured with adults.
The American Burn Association recommends the following simple safety tips to decrease the risk to yourself and those you love from microwave scalds.
Place microwaves at a safe height, within easy reach, for all users to avoid spills. The face of the person using the microwave should always be higher than the front of the door. All users should be tall enough to reach the microwave oven door, easily view the cooking area, and handle the food safely. Microwaves installed above counters or stoves can be a scald hazard for anyone.
Children under age 7 should not operate the microwave unless they are closely supervised. Instruct and supervise older children.
Never heat baby bottles of formula or milk in the microwave, especially those with plastic bottle liners. When the bottle is inverted, plastic liners can burst, pouring scalding liquids onto the baby. Always mix the formula well and test on the back of a hand or inner wrist before feeding.
Steam, reaching temperatures greater than 200 degrees, builds rapidly in covered containers and can easily result in burns to the face, arms and hands. Puncture plastic wrap or use vented containers to allow steam to escape while cooking. Or, wait at least one minute before removing the cover. When removing covers, lift the corner farthest from you and away from your face or arm.
Steam in microwave popcorn bags is hotter than 180 degrees. Follow package directions, allow to stand one minute before opening, and open bag away from the face.
Foods heat unevenly in microwaves. Remember, jelly and cream fillings in pastries may be extremely hot, even though outer parts feel only warm.