Hot Plates and Fire Risk
Fire safety week is coming up. We will have safety tips through out the next few weeks. This first one revolves around hot plates. With the recent events in and around the area this is essential information.
Thousands of homes in and around Lawrence MA were given hot plates. Within hours of receiving them fires had already been broken out.
They are not stoves and do not have the same levels of safety built into their design. It is essential for you to understand how to use them while staying safe.
People need to be safe when using any cooking device. With one that is portable there are extra precautions that need to be taken.
- Read all directions and familiarize yourself with how to use the device.
- DO NOT leave unattended at any time.
- Never use near any flammable materials. This includes but is not limited to curtains, carpets, clothing etc..
- Always use on a stable steady surface
- Do not set hot plate to a setting higher than needed.
- Reduce the flammable materials that you cook with (Example: Cooking oil)
- Keep any paper materials away from them (Plates, Cups, ect)
- Check the cords and sensors for damage prior to each use.
As always, we highly recommend that you have a fire extinguisher. Keep it within arms reach of the hotplate. Should you not have one and fire breaks out*****DO NOT******DO NOT***** use water. This is powered by electricity and will make the fire worse. Use flour, baking soda, baking powder or even just bath powder. Getting a lid to contain a fire within a pan is helpful too.
Remain calm, breathe and know what you have to do. Practice ahead of time and be prepared.
Many people were given one to use. This reduced the ability to choose the best one for their needs. We found a good housekeeping article that was able to asses those that are out there. Check out the results below. If you are thinking of getting one or received one. Know what you have or what to look for to stay safe.
The Good Housekeeping Institute (GHI) decided to investigate hot plates and warming trays that are sold online to see what dangers they might pose.
Electrical safety is so key that the first thing we do when we evaluate any product that has an electrical component is make sure it has a UL mark (see below) on it. The UL emblem signifies that the product has been third-party tested by Underwriter's Laboratories and meets national safety standards for electrical appliances. (Other marks that qualify as UL alternatives are: CSA-US, an emblem from the Canadian Standards Association and ETL-US, a European mark signifying that Intertek, an independent organization, has vetted the product for safety standards in the U.S.)
Online, we found four products sold as warming trays or hot plates, with no mention that they're UL listed. We ordered them and confirmed firsthand that they have no UL or other safety logo. (Some were marketed specifically for Sabbath purposes, which was the reason the hot plate was being used by this Brooklyn family). Two of the warming trays carry a CE mark, an emblem that is merely a self-certification symbolizing that the company says it has conformed with legal requirements to be sold in Europe.
To add to consumer confusion: Some products manufactured in China are labeled with a very similar CE mark and all it stands for is "China Export." (The differences, which are hard to distinguish, are that the C and E are closer together, see below, and the line in the middle of the E extends further
While the absence of any approved safety logo does not mean a product is dangerous, it does deprive you of the reassurance of knowing a product has been safety tested by an independent lab.
We also recommend adhering to the following safety guidelines:
- Regularly check the cords and plugs of your electrical appliances to see if they're frayed, damaged or worn out. If they are, discard them. And make sure any electrical cord is kept away from heat.
- Leave enough space around any electrical appliance to allow for heat dissipation. Also, keep any heating device away from flammable materials and combustible fuels.
- Never leave turned-on appliances unattended.
- Always unplug unused appliances.
- Make sure bathroom, kitchen, and garage outlets are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI).
- Install smoke detectors outside each bedroom and make sure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, including your basement. Test your alarms monthly, replace batteries at least once a year, and replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.
Miriam Arond is the Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute.
We want you all to stay safe while you are trying to get back to normal. If you are not sure how to properly use a hot plate ask for help. These are not toys and with fires already erupting from use within hours of being received. It is important that people understand proper use.