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What Happens If You Leave The Oven On?

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It happens to all of us, at one point or another in our lives.  We turn the oven on to cook dinner or bake cookies and we forget to turn it off!

So, what happens if you accidentally leave your oven on?  – Whether it’s a gas or electric oven, the results of leaving an oven on can possibly be disastrous and deadly.  If you leave an electric oven on, it could lead to a fire.  If you leave a gas oven on, in addition to a fire, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur.

The most common reasons people leave their ovens on all day and/or overnight is either for cooking or heating the home.

Cooking something overnight (like a roast for pulled pork) on low heat should not present a problem – after all – ovens can be on all day during the holidays baking everything from cookies to lasagna!

The difference in leaving an oven on (especially overnight or when you’re not home) is that IF a fire were to occur – there’s little to no chance to put it out immediately.

But using an oven to heat the home is truly dangerous and I’ll tell you why below.

Is It Dangerous To Leave The Oven On?

Yes, it can be.  The dangers are very real whether it’s an electric or a gas oven.

Dangers In Leaving Your Electric Oven On

what happens if oven is left onThe problem with leaving an electric oven on, say overnight (because you forgot) is not recommended but as long as the door to the oven is closed and there is nothing inside the oven, the chances of a fire or anything else happening are lower.

But again, it is strongly recommended to NOT leave the oven on! Electrical malfunctions could still occur.

The danger with electric ovens is when homeowners use it to heat the home.  So, they purposely leave the oven on and crack the door open.

This can cause the oven knobs and temperature dials to melt and catch fire.  And if the homeowner has anything else nearby, oven mitts, kitchen towels, etc. – those could also catch fire and before you know it – the kitchen or worse is engulfed in flames.

Dangers In Leaving Your Gas Oven On

Gas ovens are an even greater danger if they are left on simply because of the carbon monoxide (CO2) that they emit.  And as we all know, you won’t notice that you are breathing in carbon monoxide until it’s too late.

But there are signs that can alert you to carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • General weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blurred Vision

Basically, it can resemble a really bad case of the flu.

In addition to the CO2 poisoning, an unattended gas oven that is left on could overheat and ignite a fire.

More About Fire Safety Tips For Seniors

Again, I want to repeat – DO NOT use the oven (whether it’s a gas or an electric oven) to heat the home.  It is dangerous to leave the oven door open for extended periods of time.  It’s both a fire risk and if you leave the oven door of a gas stove on, you are risking Carbon Monoxide poisoning as well.

Can An Oven Catch On Fire If Left On?

The oven itself won’t necessarily catch on fire as long as there’s nothing in the oven TO be ignited and as long as the door to the oven is properly closed.

If a pan of food, or grease or crumbs of food are left in the oven then yes – a fire could be the end result.

As I said above, if the oven door does not close properly or is left open, the heat from the oven can melt the oven knobs or anything else in it’s vicinity and could possibly cause a fire.

How Long Can You Leave An Electric Stove On?

Electric stoves can be (although honestly I don’t recommend it) left on for 12 hours.  Stoves made in 1995 or sooner automatically turn off after 12 hours.

That’s a very long time in my opinion.  Can leaving an electric stove on for 12 hours cause a fire that could potentially destroy your home and cause fatalities?

The answer is “it depends”. The truth is that leaving an electric stovetop burner on does not, in and of itself cause damage. The problem is if there is something on the burner or near the burner that could catch on fire.

Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Leaving The Oven On?

The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning comes only from gas powered appliances.  So, if you have an electric oven, there is no danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

But if you have a gas oven, as I mentioned above, the dangers of CO2 poisoning are very real.

I strongly recommend to install a carbon monoxide detector (like the one I recommend below) or a combination unit

Stove Alarms And Shut Off Devices For Elderly Homeowners

There are several stove alarms and timers available for electric ovens and stove tops that you can use to help you to deal with an older adult who has or may leave an oven or stove on accidentally.

  • The Simple Touch C30004 – is a very low priced timer and shut off device that can be used not only for electric ovens but for other electrical devices
  • Fire Avert Electric Auto Stove Shut Off Safety Device – It doesn’t use a timer – instead it connects to your smoke detectors and automatically shuts off the stove when the smoke detectors are activated.
  • Wallflower Smart Monitor For Electric Stoves – A wi-fi enabled plug that allows you to monitor your electric stove (or your parents stove) directly from your smart phone.  It can also be connected to an Alexa unit so that you can use your voice to set it’s timer or even to alert your contacts that dinner is ready!

For gas ovens and stove tops we can recommend looking at the following items.

These items should help to make your home safer for you and your loved ones.

Is It Dangerous To Leave The Toaster Oven On?

Both my mother and my mom-in-law stopped using their ovens years ago.  I mean, they occasionally uses it when company comes over but the majority of the time, they use either the microwave or the toaster oven for cooking their meals.

It makes perfect sense – when there’s just one person in the house to cook for – you don’t need an entire oven to cook a meal.

But, like most any electrical appliance, toaster ovens can catch on fire so caution is recommended.  Here are some tips on toaster oven safety for seniors.

  • If your senior loved one is using an older model toaster oven that does not have an auto shut off feature, I would strongly recommend that you replace theirs with one like this Breville model from Amazon.  It’s big enough to fit 4 slices of sliced bread and although it’s a countertop model – it doesn’t take up much space.
  • The general recommendation is always to unplug an appliance if you are not using it.
  • Always wait for the toaster oven to cool down before attempting to clean it.  But do clean it.  It’s very easy to leave crumbs and other food particles in the bottom of the pan which can easily catch on fire the next time you use the toaster oven.
  • Never place a toaster oven too close to the wall.
  • Never place a toaster oven near flammable objects like curtains, oven mitts, etc.
  • If, for whatever reasons the electrical cords get frayed or damaged in any way – do not use the toaster oven.  Have an electrician or handyman (if they can) replace those wires.

Even though most of the newer models of toaster ovens come equipped with an auto shut off device – it doesn’t mean you should leave it on without supervision.

How To Put Out An Oven Fire

Every homeowner should know how to put out kitchen fires, whether they are on the stove or in the oven.

Here are the simple steps to putting out an oven fire if the oven door is closed

  • Since the oven door is closed – keep it closed.
  • Turn off the oven and let the fire burnout by itself – open the windows in your home.
  • Wait until the fire is completely gone and the oven has had time to cool a bit.
  • Open the oven door (but be aware that it may be very smokey – hence the reason to have the windows open).
  • Clean out the oven before attempting to use it again – BUT – if the fire was due to an electrical problem please do not use the oven again until you have had it inspected by a professional appliance repair technician.
  • If you see that the fire is not getting smaller but instead staying steady or getting larger – do not open the oven door!
  • Leave the house and call 911 immediately!

Putting out an oven fire if the oven door is open

  • Usually if a fire starts due to an open oven door it’s because an item was left too close to the oven like a kitchen towel or apron, etc.  It’s these items that are actually on fire.
  • A class A fire extinguisher is the best to use.

Read more about Fire Safety Tips and Fire Extinguishers here.

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