Imagine you have a brisket you’d like to cook overnight, but you’re asking yourself, can leaving the oven on cause a fire?
Cooking the brisket overnight would allow you to prepare for tomorrow’s dinner easily, but is it worth the risk if it’s a fire hazard?
Or, perhaps it’s wintertime, and the central heater in your house broke down. Is it safe to leave the oven on for hours to heat the whole home?
Leaving the oven on unattended is never a good idea. A gas oven could cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, while an electric oven could cause a fire.
Let’s discuss this safety hazard so you know how to keep your home safe.
Can Leaving the Oven on Cause a Fire?
If you left the oven on overnight, you could risk a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Both of these are severe situations, and you should handle them as such.
Fires caused by ovens have a higher chance of occurring overnight since there is no one to check on the food inside.
Whether gas or electric, both have the possibility of catching fire.
If no one is there to stop the fire, it can spread quickly. A single flame in an oven can easily spread into a full-blown house fire if one is not careful.
You could also suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning if you have a gas oven. In these cases, the stove’s gas can cause your kitchen to fill up with carbon monoxide.
With no ventilation and no way to stop the spread, you risk having your house fill up while you are sleeping or away from the oven.
Note: If you have a gas oven, make sure to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
It is best to keep the oven off unless you can care for it while in use.
Even on low heat, your oven could still malfunction and cause damage to your home and your family. It isn’t worth the risk, even if it saves you time.
How to Prevent an Oven Fire
Nearly 50% of all house fires start because of cooking, so it’s critical to pay attention and follow safety guidelines while using your oven.
Only Use the Oven for Cooking
While leaving the oven on for heat can be an easy option for many families, it’s best to invest in a space heater before leaving the oven door open.
The risk of a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning is too high for you to use the oven as a heater.
If you need to use the oven for heat, try to time it so you are also cooking something while using the oven.
That will allow a certain amount of time for the appliance to be on and let the kitchen warm up while making your food.
Be Ready and Alert When Cooking
If you plan to cook, make sure you are in the right headspace for cooking.
If you have been drinking, have taken any medication that could cause sleepiness or a slower reaction time, or are tired, it’s best to stay away from the oven and stove.
Most fires start when people stop paying attention to their food’s cooking time. If you are unsure if you can cook, it’s best to stay on the safe side and stick to meals that don’t require fire or heat.
Stay in or Close to the Kitchen
Staying close to the oven while you’re cooking can help you make sure that no fire or gas leak can occur. If possible, it is best to stay in the kitchen while cooking until the food is ready.
Try not to head upstairs or into a room where you can’t see the oven.
If you have to leave the kitchen, make sure to remember to come back and check on the oven every few minutes.
Keep your eyes out for flames, listen for fire alarms or crackling of flames, and if you smell smoke, check on the oven immediately.
Check Your Food Regularly
While cooking, open the oven every once in a while to check on the progress of your meal.
Ensure that you completely close the oven every time the door is open.
If possible, check the temperature of your food to make sure you aren’t keeping it in there for too long.
Note: Be wary of hot grease and drippings in the oven. These can cause a fire if not cleaned.
When opening the oven to check your food, make sure that you check the food, the space around the food, and the bottom of the oven.
Try not to leave anything in the oven’s opening, even if you would like to spread the heat into the kitchen. Close the door completely every time you open it.
Use a Timer for Cook Times and Check-In Times
Using a timer will not only remind you about cooking times, but it can also let you know when to check on your meal.
When using a timer, make sure that you check the oven as soon as the alarm goes off.
Try to space out the times you check on the food every 15 to 20 minutes.
Tip: If you are unsure of the cooking time of your meal, check every 10 to 15 minutes instead of 15 to 20 minutes.
When you are done cooking, turn off the timer with the oven. Every time you finish your food, the heat should go off at the same time.
Keep Flammables Away From the Oven
Flammables are anything that will get hot or burn when exposed to high temperatures.
Common items of these types are oven mitts, tea or hand towels, aprons, plastic or wood utensils (i.e. spatulas, spoons), and non-oven-approved plates, dishes, and cookware.
Before using anything in the oven, make sure the dish is safe before you use it.
Many oven-safe items will be marked as such on the box they came in, or they can be found on the bottom of the container.
When in doubt, it’s best to either Google for that specific dishware or to use another that you know is oven-safe.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Signs of fire are commonly-known, but many people don’t know the symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
If you have a gas oven, it’s important to know the signs associated with the illness.
According to the CDC, common symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu: confusion, dizziness, weakness, headache or migraine, upset stomach, chest pain, and vomiting.
People who are sleeping or drunk may ignore the signs until it’s too late. Too much CO can quickly cause fainting and death if not handled.
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning, and it’s common in places where ovens are left on overnight for heat.
You have a higher chance of CO filling your space when you leave a gas oven on overnight with the door open. Since you’re sleeping, it could lead to a quick death.
How to Handle Fires and Carbon Monoxide
If there is a fire in your oven, keep the door closed to prevent it from spreading over the entire kitchen. Turn off the heat if possible.
Once you have turned off the heat, open the windows in your house to allow ventilation of the smoke.
Wait out the oven fire as it should die down without oxygen in the oven.
Leave the oven alone once the fire has burned down to allow for the oven to cool. Once it’s cool, clean it before using it again.
Tip: If you are unsure if a fire is dying or if it spreads, make an emergency call. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you suspect CO poisoning, remove yourself and your family from the house. Check if any CO alarms have gone off before leaving.
Make an emergency call and allow the workers to check for CO poisoning.
You may have to stay at another location until the CO has completely cleared out.
Recap: Can Leaving the Oven on Cause a Fire?
If you are thinking about leaving the oven on overnight, consider asking yourself if can leaving the oven on cause a fire and remember the risks.
It is best to keep the oven off while you are sleeping to avoid fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Instead, only use the appliance as directed, install CO detectors, and invest in space heaters.