Small appliances are a quick way to heat up a meal. We take for granted that microwaves are safe but in fact they can be dangerous if you are not careful.


  • Never use an extension cord with a microwave. Plug it directly into a wall outlet.
  • Position the microwave at a safe height so it is easy to use, easy to put food in and easy to take food out.
  • If you are microwaving something that is covered, be sure and uncover it away from your face. Steam can cause bad burns.
  • Remember to stir the food well, because a microwave often heats unevenly, and always test it before serving children.
  • Never heat a baby bottle in the microwave as it can create hot pockets. Instead, place a bottle in a bowl of warm water that is not too hot or boiling.
  • Use only microwave safe dishes. Anything with metal can spark and cause a fire, including handles on take-out food containers, twist-ties on bread bags, aluminum foil and even gold trim on china.


  • Toasters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet.
  • Never put metal objects into a toaster that’s plugged in. You could get zapped or burned.
  • Keep plastic bags, paper bags, paper towels or anything flammable away from toasters and that includes items directly above the toaster like paper towels.
  • Remember, butter goes on after the bread is toasted!
  • Clean out the crumbs regularly. Do this when the toaster is cool and unplugged.

Toaster ovens

  • Toaster ovens are meant for indoor use and should not be used by children.
  • Make sure to leave six to eight inches clear on all sides of your toaster oven.
  • Never set anything on top of your toaster oven, and don’t store anything inside it. You might forget about it.
  • Do not cover the toaster oven crumb tray with aluminum foil as it can cause the toaster to overheat.

For your toaster, toaster oven, microwave, or any small appliance, make sure they are in good working order and the cords are not frayed or split.

Keep these items clean, and always remember to use an oven mitt or potholder when removing hot food or containers.

Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue.