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Is it safe to leave your crockpot on all day while you are out?

Just wondering if everyone leaves their crockpot on all day while not home. Maybe it's a dumb question, but every so often I come across someone who thinks it's not a good idea due to fire hazard. I leave mine on 8 hours while I am at work. My mom did this too. I thought that is what they are designed for. Has anyone ever had a problem???

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  1. yes it should be safe. Heck I leave my oven on sometimes (albeit not for 8 hours) if it's set low enough and I'm doing a slow braise in a dutch oven.

    1. I always do it. Never a problem, not even a worry.

      1. I've left it on many times. Just to be on the safe side, I don't leave towels or pot holders on the lid and I move it away from the wall. Haven't had any problem yet.

        1. That is what they are designed for. Who has time for slow cooked recipe when they're not home? Keep it out of reach of something that might fall on it or pets or what have you.

          1. It is never "safe" to leave any appliance on when there isn't someone there to monitor what's going on. Electrical fires, including those caused by Crock pots, can occur even when you're at home watching the pot. That said, I sometimes leave my crock pot on while I'm away from home. I've been fortunate, never having had to come home to a firefighters convention in my front yard. But I realize that, when I make that decision, I'm taking a risk.

            4 Replies
            1. re: todao

              Does it mean you turn off your hot water heater or furnace off when you leave home, too?

              1. re: al b. darned

                Copied from the Sonoita-Elgin Fire Department News :

                "Fire Safety Tip: Can you even imagine how many causes of fire there are? Many we know and many we don’t. We recently had a structure fire started by a crock pot. Check yours out! Set it on your counter and turn it on HIGH for about ½ hour. BE CAREFUL and watch it to make sure everything is OK. Now turn it OFF. Feel your counter. Is it VERY hot? You bet it is! If the counter is hot, find another non-flammable place to put the crock pot (like on a tile or pizza stone). Or safer yet, don’t leave the crock pot unattended."

                I think it's fairly obvious that no one's home is ever going be perfectly safe from the threat of a fire. But in my view, I'd rather not add one more possible layer of risk. I'm not going to shut off my furnace when I leave my house, but I don't consider it a necessity to run a crock pot when I'm not home and personally, I would never do it.

                1. re: flourgirl

                  i put my slow-cooker on a sheet pan when it's on the counter of my old Hut. now my counters are granite, not much of a fire hazard there.
                  i've also put it on my stove top.
                  also make sure that it's nopt directly under any upper cabinets, growing up we had two kitchen fires from hot appliances under cabinets.

                  1. re: flourgirl

                    It should not be left on high all day. Low is a different thing.

              2. I don't, but that's only because I have a large Rival crockpot that boils relatively quickly on the low setting. I usually only use it during the weekends when I'm around and don't leave alone for more than three hours.

                1. I do not claim to be an expert, but all the electricians and engineers I have spoken with point out that the really important thing is the cut-out or Saf-T-Cut on the mains.

                  Makes sense. When I go out anytime, fridge is on, a few items on standby (TV satellite box), electric clocks running so plenty of opportunity for short circuits if the cut-out is not working.

                  So, I just leave it on if I have to go out.

                  1. The idea of putting it on the pizza stone is a great one. I may start doing that.

                    1. I used to leave mine on all the time while out all day, no problem. Now I never go anywhere, but still leave it on all day. :)

                      1. I've been using mine now for 30+ years with no problem whatsoever. On low, of course. We have so many appliances we leave on, I cannot imagine why the crockpot would be an issue over any other appliance- especially if it is on low. That said, there is always room for an electrical short on anything, but so far so good.

                        1. it is very safe. check the cord for frays, place it where it is untouched and go to work. it is most definitely designed to be used in this fashion. you will always find a nozzle nut that will claim the sky is falling, but the fact remains that certain appliances are designed to be left plugged in and used while not at home. furnace, fridge, air conditioner, hot water heater, and of course, your crock pot.

                          1. Yes, it is safe to leave the slow cooker on while your away from home. That is after all what they where esignsd for.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Demented

                              Just make sure you aren't making phosphorus-glazed pork shoulder in a gasoline-citrus reduction

                            2. < "Has anyone ever had a problem?" >

                              Oh, probably. Every now and then, there is also a story about somebody peacefully sleeping in their bed when tree falls on the roof and kills them.
                              Things happen.
                              But the statistical chances of your crockpot malfunctioning, your power outlet shorting out, or whatever, and a major fire occurring are extremely small - so small that you would be crazy to spend your time worrying.
                              Make sure that your crockpot is in good shape, that the circuit isn't overloaded, that the cat isn't going to knock it over, and that you haven't done anything truly stupid, although it's hard to imagine what that is with such a simple minded appliance.
                              Most of us DO leave them on when we go out. They're designed for that.

                              Freak accidents happen. That's why we have homeowners' insurance and why we use common sense. Beyond that, there's nothing we can do.

                              1. I've been doing this for 40 years. Haven't burned down a house yet. If this is the riskiest thing you do, you maybe ought to get out there on the edge a bit.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  These last two comments were especially good, to the point -- made me laugh, too.

                                2. It's not a dumb question; in fact, it's a smart question.

                                  The argument that the crock pot is o.k. to leave unattended because that is what "they are designed for" is not a valid argument. The Titanic was designed to stay afloat and withstand any condition. We saw what happened there.

                                  Anything designed or engineered by humans is subject to un-forseen disasters.

                                  If I know that I will have to leave the house, I don't start anything in my crock pot. I have pets, and it is not worth the risk.

                                  Maybe it's safe; maybe it's not. But I'd rather be overcautious and thought foolish than to be responsible for the death of my pets or neighbors.

                                  At least you are smart enough not to put all of your trust in ANY appliance and ask the question.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: Kaat1220

                                    It is SAFER to leave the house while your crockpot is on. That way you won't be in the house when it burns down.

                                    Seriously, I know someone whose dishwasher started a fire while everyone was sleeping. And it wasn't even turned on at the time! It's better to leave your house before sleeping too.

                                    1. re: ttochow

                                      Too funny! Maybe the best post on CH this year.

                                      1. re: ttochow

                                        Joke if you must, but the dishwasher was a freak accident, and no one could have forseen this incident.

                                        And leaving the crock pot on is safer if YOU leave the house, but not so much for your pets or if you have an invalid living at home.

                                        So, poke fun if you want. I doubt you will be laughing if you lose loved ones due to something that did not have to happen.

                                        1. re: Kaat1220

                                          Now that you know that it has happened to my friend, could it really be unforeseen if it happens to you?

                                          Seriously, I am kinda nutso when it comes to fires. Probably because other idiots around me keep starting them. I lived in apartments destroyed by someone forgetting to turn off the flame after cooking bacon. But seriously, a slow cooker left on a fire-safe surface? I'd expect bad smells, nothing more.

                                          My dad was an electrician. He taught me about electricity. For the life of me, I can see nothing specific to an electrical device left on a fire-safe area that would create an issue. Nothing that would add to the risks posed by other standard electrical devices. A crockpot is probably less risky than, gasp, an A/C unit, which almost no one would consider turning off when leaving.

                                          1. re: ttochow

                                            Safest yet is to just stay home...driving around town is way riskier

                                            1. re: ttochow

                                              Call me paranoid, but neighbors starting fires has always been my greatest apartment fear.

                                              I dated a gal who I discovered never emptied the dryers lint catcher. Even after I told her how flammable dryer lint is, and the danger of allowing it to build up, she continued not to empty it!

                                              For those that don't know, dryer lint is an excellent fire starter when camping; it's compact and lights easily.

                                              1. re: Custardly

                                                I'd think the fact that your jeans don't take three days to dry would be good motivation to clean the filters!

                                                1. re: Custardly

                                                  Well, dryer fires are a problem, and they happen a LOT. My point was and remains, understand risk and put it in perspective. I was being a little facetious about not leaving the house, but only just a little. Here is some from NFPA. 40 percent of house fires are caused by cooking equipments and that "portable cooking or warming units" accounted for only 4% of those. I assume that category covers crock pots, but guessing that covers hot plates, fryers, fondue pots, toasters, coffemakers, etc. which seem more, shall we say, problematic. NFPA reports that alcohol was involved in 40 percent of all fires and fire deaths, so cut down on your liquor consumption and pay attention while cooking. Oh yeah, and clean out the dryer vent while you're at it.


                                          2. re: Kaat1220

                                            Yes, Kaat1220, I agree with your thoughts - especially about the pets thing. I just finally got a slow cooker after all this time - only because I needed to take some food to my sister's house for Christmas Eve and had no way of keeping it hot. I have corgis and cats, and won't ever think of leaving something on that may cause harm.

                                            Now, if I didn't have pets, I would give it a go. (I live in the country, so no neighbors to worry about.)

                                            1. re: breadchick

                                              Not to be rude, but this kind of thinking (or lack thereof) about it being okay since you live in the country is what leads to wildland fires.

                                              1. re: Custardly

                                                Hmm, I wasn't serious.

                                                I don't start fires outside. I wouldn't start fires outside. I don't start fires in my fireplace.

                                                Didn't you get the whole "I wouldn't think of leaving something behind that may cause harm."

                                                Forest fires aren't funny, nor are they the result of leaving your slow cooker on. To put the two together seems a bit much.

                                                1. re: Custardly

                                                  Oh, and I neglected to mention that my future son-in-law is a firefighter, and my son is a vol firefighter. My son was willing to go west to help fight some of the most severe fires we've seen on the news in a long time. Fires sometimes caused by careless folks leaving something burning that does cause harm. Sheesh.

                                            2. Holy dusty-thread-revival! I have the same concerns, and run my slow cooker on the garage floor if I'm not home. I also unplug my toaster when not in use, and would never leave the oven on. Depends on your personal comfort level

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                Unplugging the toaster is a good idea. I know of three people whose toasters (not in use at the time) have caused fires. I try to remember but am not always successful.

                                                I have no qualms about leaving the crockpot on low when I'm gone, sitting on a firesafe marble slab. I also run the dryer when I'm gone, leave water heater and furnace on, and drive daily on highways. The last being the most dangerous by far.

                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                  Firefighters have told us that the switch on toasters, toaster ovens and countertop convection ovens is not very reliable. They always unplug it when not in use.

                                                  I also have a marble slab, and a stainless-steel kitchen cart. Would leave crockpot on there, on low, but preferably not when I'm working outside the home. That is because when I'm working outside, it is usually at conferences that can run very late, so it would mean at the least overcooked food. I cook when I'm working at home; a crockpot is great for that as you don't have to remember to see how the food is cooking.

                                                  They are actually very useful for anyone with a home office, despite their limitations.

                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                    I used to have one that was programmable -- and when it cooked the requested time(s) at the requested temperature(s), it automatically switched to holding it all.

                                                    No overcooked anything.

                                                    (I miss that crockpot)

                                                2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                  Unplugging the toaster is a good idea. I know of three people whose toasters (not in use at the time) have caused fires. I try to remember but am not always successful.

                                                  I have no qualms about leaving the crockpot on low when I'm gone, sitting on a firesafe marble slab. I also run the dryer when I'm gone, leave water heater and furnace on, and drive daily on highways. The last being the most dangerous by far.

                                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                    Haha, BiscuitBoy! Though I'm amazed at the number of resurrected threads on this board, I'm pleasantly surprised that I've yet to see anyone degrade another for it. A very cordial forum here.

                                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                      Hope you haven't run over your dinner because you forgot it was on the garage floor.

                                                      1. re: breadchick

                                                        that would be me -- or just falling flat on my face because I tripped over it.

                                                        1. re: breadchick

                                                          HA! I had that same concern, so I leave an orange construction cone in front of the garage door on crock day

                                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                            So, it must be comforting for you while driving home from work, to see a construction site and say "wooooh, dinner's almost ready!"

                                                            Orange cone. I love it. ;-)

                                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                              Please don't take offense, I was being my usual NY snark-thinking-I'm funny. I can be lame.

                                                              1. re: breadchick

                                                                No, believe me, "wooooh" is definitely what I say to myself

                                                          2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                            I don't have a garage. Will putting my crock pot in the driveway be just as safe? It *will* be easier to put out if it catches fire.

                                                          3. I'm another one who NEVER leaves a crockpot cooking, or a dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer running when I'm not going to be home.

                                                            In fact, I find crockpot cooking particularly satisfying when I'm going to be home all day. Frees up a lot of time for doing other things around the house, or just kicking back & relaxing instead of doing a lot of last-minute dinner prep.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. I leave mine on at least 3X per week.

                                                              1. Didn't wanna even look at responses here, before others chimed in!?! I have a crockpot, but really don't use it that often... usually for something I know will take a while and I'll be there while it's cookiing.

                                                                1. I don't have a problem leaving the crockpot on when I'm gone, but as several others said, it must be on a stone, or on the garage floor (love that one!) or on a slab of marble.

                                                                  As a kitchen designer, I've replaced more than my share of burned out laminate countertops and the cabinets surrounding them; fires caused by crockpots left on the laminate when nobody's home. That has been the number one reason for kitchen fires in my experience. (number two has been pots of cooking oil for deep frying forgotten on the stove with the burner on)

                                                                  Before I got my granite countertops, I set my crockpot on a large rectangle tempered glass counter protector that had little feet to raise it up and make some air space under the glass. That worked just fine.

                                                                  1. I left not one but two crockpots on when we left the house around 4 to go to a party - applesauce and chicken stock, both on low. Normally I'd not give it a second thought but as we neared home, I told my spouse that I was actually a bit worried that perhaps I'd burnt the place down. All was well, however.

                                                                    1. Yes, I leave mine on regularly. It is fabulous for making healthy meals during the week for a busy famliy (and on the week-ends whether home or not). That being said I use it as safe as possible: on my granite island with nothing near it. It is plugged into a GFI plugin, so if there is any electrical problem it would be tripped. I also do not have animlas so I do not have any concerns about an animal climbing up near it. I leave all other 'counter type' applicances unplugged and put away when not in use (toaster, coffee pot) but I leave my alarm clock in, so it is really a comfort type thing for most people on what you will or will not leave in use. My mom always used hers without anyone being home but in the same 'safe' fashion (on a non-flammable surface)

                                                                      1. I have not read this thread in it's entirety, and while somewhat smaller in size, have you guys considered a hotpot. I think I am calling this right. Basically it's a double walled vessled container in which you the *pot* that you take off the stove goes into.

                                                                        Love mine. Just heat up the contents on the stove - remove and put it into the vessel, and take it out X hrs later to continue back over to the stove.