Microwave Oven Safety for Kids

Because burns are a common hazard related to microwave oven use, make sure children know how to use a microwave oven safely.

  • Make sure the microwave oven is on a sturdy stand-one that's low enough for kids. If children need to reach too high, they may pull a hot dish down on themselves.
  • Teach children to read the controls on the microwave oven-the time, the power level, and the "start" and "stop" controls. If kids can't read them, they're too young to operate a microwave oven alone.
  • Keep microwave-safe containers in one place-within a child's reach.
  • Always have a child use potholders to remove heated food from the microwave oven-whether the food is hot or not. In that way it becomes a habit. Keep potholders handy for kids.
  • Teach children to stir heated food before tasting. That distributes the heat and avoids hot spots that can cause burns.
  • Show them how to open containers so that steam escapes away from their face. That includes packages of popped microwave popcorn.
  • Until you're sure that children have mastered the art of microwaving, provide supervision.

For more tips on using a microwave oven safely, see "Play It Microwave-Safe" in chapter 12.

• As your child is ready, teach kitchen safety tips: to use potholders when handling hot pans, pots, and dishes . . . to handle knives safely . . . to be very careful with hot liquids . . . and to use appliances safely. See

"Microwave Oven Safety for Kids" on page 425.

  • Set limits on what your child can—and can't—do without proper supervision. For example, your child can't use the oven if he or she is home alone.
  • Remind your child to be aware of his or her hair and clothes before using the stove. Large, loose-fitting garments and long hair can catch fire.
  • Practice what you preach. Your child will take his or her kitchen-safety cues from you.
  • Practice what to do in case of fire. That includes "drop and roll" to smother the flames in case his or her clothes catch fire. Keep a fire extinguisher in view and teach your child how to use it.
  • Try to keep food and utensils your child will use within easy reach. Keep a sturdy stool handy if he or she needs to reach higher. Remind your child not to climb on the counters or on a wobbling stool!
  • Teach kids—even preschoolers—to call 911 (or emergency numbers such as those for the fire department, poison control center, or police in your area). Post the phone numbers in your kitchen where children can see them easily. Include the phone numbers of your doctor, a neighbor, and a relative.
  • Practice the Heimlich maneuver with children. Like you, they can save the life of someone who's choking—if they know how. See "How to Avoid Choking" in chapter 12. For infants, see "For Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers: How to Avoid Choking" in chapter 15.
  • Keep a first-aid kit handy and stocked. Teach your child how to use it for a minor cooking injury.

For more on preventing injuries, see "Quick Tips for Injury Prevention" in chapter 12.

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