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unattended oven or stove

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rtms Jan 26, 2010 06:04 PM

I have a gas oven and stove and live in an condo apartment. Is is irresponsibly unsafe to leave something on the stove set on low while taking the trash downstairs.

Would it be irresponsibly unsafe to leave something in the oven - a stew or a cake when I know when I need to be back to take the item out of the oven?

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    small h RE: rtms Jan 26, 2010 07:08 PM

    1. Yes, it's irresponsible.
    2. But I do it all the time.
    3. Because it's really no different than going to check my email in the other room.
    4. I wouldn't leave anything unattended for more than 5:00, though.

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    1. goodhealthgourmet RE: rtms Jan 26, 2010 07:27 PM

      i'm paranoid about burning the house down, so i'd never do it. because though you may be totally confident that it'll just be a quick trip downstairs, stuff happens. you run into a chatty neighbor who distracts you and you forget...or the door somehow locks behind you and you left your keys inside...or you left a window open and a breeze blows something onto the stove....you just never know. in the meantime, while you're engaged in conversation or locked out, the liquid burns out of the pot you left on the stove and it catches on fire...or whatever flew in on the breeze ignites on the open flame...or something in the oven chars, and at the very least, you end up with a condo filled with smoke (and the odor clings to everything and lingers forever).

      yes, this is sort of a worst-case scenario approach, and i really think gas/open flame is more of a concern than electric. but i'd rather be safe than sorry. and after all, i am the one who easily justified plunking down fifty bucks for a more expensive yogurt maker because the automatic shutoff feature somehow made me feel safer about leaving it on overnight ;)

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      1. Samalicious RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 03:11 AM

        Never leave cooking processes unattended.
        That's what the firemen always say when they're interviewed on TV on why the house burned down.

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        1. Davwud RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 03:34 AM

          I would do it while I went and checked the mail. But only if it were something that's on a low temperature. When I do, I always to a good check of things to see what may go wrong.

          If it wasn't safe to have an oven unattended then they wouldn't put timers on them.

          Do you leave your toaster plugged in?? I know of two people who've burned down their kitchens with toasters that were not in use but were left plugged in.

          DT

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          1. jfood RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 04:59 AM

            Your asking the question gives you the answer.

            Jfood would not do it either.

            And to Davwud...jfood ALWAYS unplugs the toaster.

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            1. re: jfood
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              Taralli RE: jfood Jan 27, 2010 10:03 AM

              I don't even leave my microwave plugged in.

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              1. re: Taralli
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                DGresh RE: Taralli Jan 27, 2010 10:12 AM

                you know, my cabinet mounted microwave has an actual plug in the back that's plugged into an actual socket in the back of the cabinet. I doubt that's much different and no one is going to unplug *that* every day.

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              jeanmarieok RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 05:03 AM

              Every once in awhile, I leave something in the oven. Low temp, long cooking stuff like a stew or a roast. Never on the stove top, though.

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              1. re: jeanmarieok
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                KTinNYC RE: jeanmarieok Jan 27, 2010 05:48 AM

                I've left pork shoulder in the oven for hours while I was out of the house. Theoretically a mouse could run intot he stove, catch fire, run out, and put the rest of the apartment on fire but I would classify this as an "Act of God".

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                1. re: KTinNYC
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                  DGresh RE: KTinNYC Jan 27, 2010 06:02 AM

                  yeah, I'm not sure of the over-cautiousness expressed by some here. I mean, if you won't walk out to the mailbox or take the trash out with the stove on, does that also mean you don't use the bathroom with the stove on? Don't answer the front door with the stove on? Only talk on the phone if you're standing in front of the stove? I'm just not that paranoid, as long as I'm not searing food in a sizzling pan or something like that. I mean, when I make Bolognese it's on the stove for many hours. No way are my eyeballs on it the whole time.

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                  1. re: DGresh
                    Missy2U RE: DGresh Jan 27, 2010 08:35 AM

                    Of course I'll do other stuff IN THE HOUSE while the stove/oven is on. But I won't LEAVE the house.

                    My husband has gotten locked out in the past - our garage door between the garage and the house has a tendency to have the lock slip - he's stood outside for a couple hours before. I'm just not going to take a chance.

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                      DGresh RE: Missy2U Jan 27, 2010 08:45 AM

                      we have a key in a lockbox outside.

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                  2. re: KTinNYC
                    buttertart RE: KTinNYC Jan 27, 2010 10:11 AM

                    KTinNYC: Vivid mental image department. I'm with you on this. Oven on low but not stovetop.

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                    1. re: KTinNYC
                      im_nomad RE: KTinNYC Feb 13, 2010 04:51 PM

                      haha, you must have read about my "mouse in the oven" cake freak-out from before xmas.

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                      1. re: im_nomad
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                        KTinNYC RE: im_nomad Feb 13, 2010 05:06 PM

                        Nope, I must have missed that post. Sounds exciting!

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                  3. Pat Hammond RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 05:59 AM

                    I have a small apartment in a two-family house. I'll leave something roasting in the oven, IF my downstairs neighbors are home. I leave my door open, they leave theirs open, and I let them know I have something in the oven. Never gone more than 15 minutes under these circumstances. My smoke alarm works. I'm not entirely comfortable doing that, though. Like Jfood, I unplug the toaster when it's not in use.

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                      roro1831 RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 06:37 AM

                      I never leave the house with anything on, into another room yes.
                      I feel strange when I leave the house with the crockpot on.
                      Never leave the house with the washing machine, dryer or dishwasher running.
                      Came home once after walking the dog with the washing machine running and sure enough, water all over the wood floors, only gone 20 minutes. Since then I take no chances.

                      I'm in the insurance business and we get countless claims from unattended cooking fires or something left on that they thought they turned off.

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                      1. re: roro1831
                        BobB RE: roro1831 Jan 27, 2010 09:42 AM

                        "I never leave the house with anything on"

                        I usually try to wear shorts, at least, but hey, de gustibus...

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                        1. re: BobB
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                          Cachetes RE: BobB Jan 27, 2010 12:06 PM

                          Ba dum bum psh!

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                        latindancer RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 06:38 AM

                        With a pot on low for hours during stewing and braising...
                        Would I go out and empty the trash?
                        Uh....of course....
                        Why wouldn't I? To do anything other than that borders on the paranoid.
                        To leave a cake in the oven and go to the market knowing when I have to return to take it out?
                        Most likely not....I'd have to leave the house and stay away for awhile and in this town that may require more time than planned.

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                          beevod RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 07:05 AM

                          They do make nannycams for stoves....Williams Sonoma

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                          1. tcamp RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 07:11 AM

                            Soup or stew gently cooking on the stove, sure, I'd take out the trash or get the mail. Frying chicken, nope. I've even taking the dogs around the block with the oven on.

                            I also leave the house with the crockpot on, the dishwasher programmed to delay start, and the washer/dryer on. I do unplug the toaster, though. Had two friends whose houses burned down due to that.

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                            1. re: tcamp
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                              GSM RE: tcamp Jan 27, 2010 07:32 AM

                              Why all the concern about toasters? Do they really have a tendency to spontaneously combust?

                              I have a gas range and frequently leave stock pots unattended while they come to a boil or while soups and stews simmer (though I wouldn't leave the house entirely). I can't bring myself to leave the house with a crockpot in use however.

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                              1. re: GSM
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                                DGresh RE: GSM Jan 27, 2010 07:34 AM

                                my mother always unplugged the coffee pot and toaster when we went on trips; but not during the day when we were all out. I never understood that! I myself don't unplug small appliances. Guess I live dangerously.

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                                1. re: DGresh
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                                  KTinNYC RE: DGresh Jan 27, 2010 07:42 AM

                                  You better not let your insurance agent read this your rates will skyrocket!

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                                2. re: GSM
                                  jfood RE: GSM Jan 27, 2010 10:13 AM

                                  google toaster house fire and there are 126,000 hits. Not all of them are perefect matches...

                                  here is one to think of

                                  http://www.theage.com.au/national/fau...

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                                  1. re: jfood
                                    BobB RE: jfood Jan 27, 2010 10:32 AM

                                    But that report gives no indication that the toaster was turned off when the owner left the house and somehow started a fire anyway. I can see a fire starting if a toaster is left on with a stuck switch or something, but cannot for the life of me see why one should have to unplug it if it's already off before you leave the house. You might as well argue that electric stoves should be unplugged before going out - they have far more ways of starting a fire than a simple toaster would. Why not unplug every electrical item in the house, for that matter? Or just trip the main circuit breaker, then you'd have NOTHING to worry about.

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                                    1. re: jfood
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                                      KTinNYC RE: jfood Jan 27, 2010 10:45 AM

                                      I've doen several searches and there is nothing definitive that I can find that said a toaster oven that doesn't have a frayed cord or was other wise malfuctioning cause a house fire.

                                      I did see an article that claimed an xbox caused a house fire so I googled xbox house fire and it came back with 855,00 results but I doubt xbox's cause 6x the number of house fires as toaster ovens ; )

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                                      1. re: KTinNYC
                                        jfood RE: KTinNYC Jan 27, 2010 10:56 AM

                                        Hey whatever works for you is OK with Jfood.

                                        There is nothing definitive to state that the owner left the toaster on or off. Tough to decide with limited data.

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                                        1. re: small h
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                                          GSM RE: small h Jan 27, 2010 11:53 AM

                                          Years ago, back when we had gadgets called "record players," my mother claimed that leaving the turntable spinning for too long could spark a fire.

                                          I suspect there's a lot of urban legend fueling these paranoias of ours. I'm all for fire safety but I'm just not convinced everything needs to be unplugged when I leave the house.

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                                          1. re: GSM
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                                            roro1831 RE: GSM Jan 27, 2010 12:00 PM

                                            Those small ceiling fans in your bathrooms cause a lot of fires as well.
                                            With regards to the burning candle someone mentioned, I handled a claim where the flame on a candle came back to life about one hour after someone blew it out. This was on videotape. After some research on the web, I found out that this can happen and there was actually a candle recall on a certain candle manufactured by some company.
                                            Bad things can happen regardless of how many precautions you take.

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                                            1. re: roro1831
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                                              queencru RE: roro1831 Jan 28, 2010 04:02 AM

                                              Many things can catch fire due to a power surge. When I was growing up, we had an awful power surge and my VCR caught fire. I don't think anything happened to the kitchen gadgets that were still plugged in.

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                                              1. re: queencru
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                                                latindancer RE: queencru Jan 28, 2010 06:42 AM

                                                I have surge protectors for many of my appliances...
                                                Including my very large and powerful espresso maker.
                                                I would never have a problem keeping it turned on all day, however, even while I'm away to the market for a few minutes.

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                                              2. re: roro1831
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                                                kpaxonite RE: roro1831 Feb 5, 2010 02:40 AM

                                                this sounds like a ghost problem (the candle incident...)

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                                              3. re: GSM
                                                BobB RE: GSM Jan 27, 2010 12:10 PM

                                                "I'm just not convinced everything needs to be unplugged when I leave the house."

                                                Make that "anything" and I'm with you. Turned off, yes, but unplugged, no, that's pure paranoia.

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                                                1. re: GSM
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                                                  small h RE: GSM Jan 27, 2010 12:11 PM

                                                  When my family got our first microwave, in the mid-70s, we used to keep a glass of water in it at all times, taking it out every time we used the microwave. This was to guard against the microwave spontaneously turning itself on (after spontaneously setting a cooking time, of course) and then blowing up. Because if you run a microwave empty, it will blow up. Note that my parents are very smart, extremely science-literate, and not at all paranoid. I have no idea why they engaged in this mysterious practice.

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                                          2. re: GSM
                                            im_nomad RE: GSM Feb 13, 2010 04:56 PM

                                            "why all the concern about toasters" A volunteer fireman coworker once filled me in on leaving things that produce that much heat, plugged in. At the time, I think I would often go off to work and leave the blow-dryer plugged in (but off). Needless to say, not only do I unplug it when I'm done, but it gets left on a relatively fire-proof surface.

                                            I admit that I do sometimes leave my space heater plugged in (but off), however that has a feature that if you so much as touch it, or it overheats in anyway, it shuts off.

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                                            1. re: im_nomad
                                              BobB RE: im_nomad Feb 14, 2010 05:35 AM

                                              And of all the millions of electric stoves in this country (which can produce far more heat, in more ways, than any other appliances), exactly how many do you think get unplugged when people leave the house? 0.0000001%?

                                              No one here has yet to give any actual reason why leaving something plugged in but OFF is an issue.

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                                              1. re: BobB
                                                c oliver RE: BobB Feb 14, 2010 06:40 AM

                                                BobB, I think this is an issue like food safety. People believe what they believe and it's unlikely that anyone is going to change their minds - either way.

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                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                  BobB RE: c oliver Feb 14, 2010 12:26 PM

                                                  You're probably right. I like to think of people out here as somehow more rational than the general run of humanity. But then, I've been reading and posting out here for quite a few years now, and if I really think that's true of Chowhounders, how rational does that make ME??? ;-)

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                                                  1. re: BobB
                                                    jfood RE: BobB Feb 14, 2010 12:53 PM

                                                    yeah, rationality and other traits are not necessary to post here. :-))

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                                          silence9 RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 08:37 AM

                                          Hello... In 1988 my then-apartment burned down one evening, while I was spending the night at my girlfriend's place (the cause was a single forgotten candle, not the stove/oven). But for the last 22 years, no matter how logically i convince myself that such incidents are isolated, I cannot leave my condo without staring at the settings on the stove for at least 5 minutes longer than what would be considered sane :-). I suppose its a combination of post traumatic stress and obssessive-compulsive tendencies exacerbated by the loss of absolutely everything I owned at the time, but more significantly, a loss of the innocence of assuming that such personal disasters cannot happen. I unplug the toaster immediately after each use, too. Losing everything in a fire just changes an individual, I guess. I still love to cook and do, nightly. But I also worry, nightly, until the stove has cooled and I have calmed down. Odd, that, but certainly not unusual or particularly unique I suppose. Thanks for listening...

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                                          1. re: silence9
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                                            latindancer RE: silence9 Jan 27, 2010 09:08 AM

                                            That's a long time to be thinking the way you do after something horrific like you're describing happened.
                                            There's help for what you're describing.
                                            There is no reason in the world to live in complete fear that something similiar will happen again....it's irrational thinking.
                                            Have you considered talking to someone?

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                                            1. re: latindancer
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                                              silence9 RE: latindancer Jan 27, 2010 12:42 PM

                                              Hi, and thank you for your sincere response. That I still cook, use candles, etc, is actually a daily affirmation that life goes on and is therefore good :-). As for talking to a professional, that' very course of action is what has allowed me to only perseverate on such 'catastrophising' for a few minutes daily. And I tended to be a worrier before the fire as well ;-).

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                                            2. re: silence9
                                              buttertart RE: silence9 Jan 27, 2010 10:14 AM

                                              Try the Mrs. Turner stove checking (named after my friend's mother) method: Look at stove, touch each control in turn, airliy saying off -off-off-off-off-off, and walk away. Works for latent OCD me.

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                                              1. re: buttertart
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                                                AussieBeth RE: buttertart Jan 27, 2010 04:38 PM

                                                EXACTLY what I do (from a family of worriers) - works for me too.

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                                                1. re: buttertart
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                                                  silence9 RE: buttertart Jan 27, 2010 05:19 PM

                                                  :-) Thank you, that makes me smile. I actually do all that you (and Mrs. Turner) suggest, with the exception being that I do not actually touch the knobs (lest in my mind's memory, touching them might turn them 'on' instead); rather, I visually mark their position and fix that in my mind as I utter Mrs. Turner's mantra: "off-off-off-off-off ". Has to be 5 "offs" (one for each stovetop burner, and one for the oven). Strange, but true...

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                                                  1. re: silence9
                                                    buttertart RE: silence9 Jan 28, 2010 06:02 AM

                                                    We are not alone...it's in honor of Mrs. Turner, who has departed this realm, but was quite a gal.

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                                                  2. re: buttertart
                                                    LindaWhit RE: buttertart Jan 29, 2010 12:39 PM

                                                    <grin> Off-off-off-off-off-off is what I do every morning when I leave for work. The 6th "off" is the coffeemaker. :-)

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                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                      buttertart RE: LindaWhit Jan 29, 2010 12:58 PM

                                                      We have a Keurig now so it's not quite as fraught leaving it. But I do turn it off if leaving for overnight or whatever. Kitty would have to go some to get the Keurig on.

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                                                2. ipsedixit RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 09:40 AM

                                                  I've made stock overnight.

                                                  And, trust me, I was sound asleep ...

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                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
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                                                    cheesecake17 RE: ipsedixit Jan 28, 2010 12:10 PM

                                                    My mother will put string beans or a roast in the oven before she goes to bed. She sets the timer for 2 or 3am to get up and take it out of the oven...

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                                                  2. RetiredChef RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                    Wow – I never knew some people were so paranoid, I do this all the time with items that need long cooking times.

                                                    As far as safety is concerned with the oven you would have to really crank the temperature to ignite something inside. For example sugar will catch fire at over 400 and flour ignites at over 500, a oven set at 350 would burn food but never ignite anything and even if it did it would most likely self-extinguish due to lack of oxygen. Remember ovens are designed for high heat so the fire would stay contained inside of the box until it self-extinguished.

                                                    Smoke damage is probably the worst that will happen and it’s a national code that all rental residences are equipped with working smoke alarms, in a condo or apt situation the alarm would alert other residents of there being a problem and 911 could be called to investigate.

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                                                    1. Davwud RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 10:28 AM

                                                      I should also state, there's nothing wrong with being a little too cautious.

                                                      DT

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                                                        DoubleBaconVeggieBurger RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 10:39 AM

                                                        Funny, I was just considering this today, I'm thinking of slow-cooking a roast and wondered if it was okay to go for a run while it cooked. I was mainly concerned about whether my husband would disapprove - he's more cautious than I am. If I lived alone, I would definitely do it. I think I will just do a workout video in the living room instead, since it seems others find it risky.

                                                        We do leave our toaster plugged in though. I'm sure there's a few other things in the house more likely to spontaneously combust than a 225 degree oven.

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                                                        1. junescook RE: rtms Jan 27, 2010 12:15 PM

                                                          The number of responses folks are getting while googling things like toaster house fire and x-box house fire are related more to googling technique than actual resutls. That is that there are so many hits for toaster, plus so many for house, etc.

                                                          If you want to know how many are truly for "toaster house fires" enclose those three words in quotation marks when you google, then the search engine will return only those hits with t hose three words together in that order.

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                                                          1. re: junescook
                                                            BobB RE: junescook Jan 27, 2010 12:23 PM

                                                            This isn't really the place for a discussion of Web search techniques, but as a reasonably adept searcher (and former site designer) I must disagree. The default behavior of a standard google search on multiple terms is to Boolean AND them, not Boolean OR them. Thus, the most efficient search would be for a combination of the terms toaster and "house fire." Searching on all three words together in that exact sequence would miss many valid instances.

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                                                            1. re: BobB
                                                              junescook RE: BobB Jan 27, 2010 05:54 PM

                                                              Hey, that's logical, and will still prevent people from getting a million irrelevant hits.

                                                              So, you are someone who appreciates that you have to be careful about what you're asking for. Anyway, do you unplug your toaster?

                                                              Btw, I don't, but i also do not leave the house with anything cooking on top of the stove.

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                                                              1. re: junescook
                                                                BobB RE: junescook Feb 1, 2010 03:55 AM

                                                                If you read my other posts in this thread you'll see that i unplug nothing. NUSSINK, I tell you! Grr... ;-)

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                                                            2. re: junescook
                                                              jfood RE: junescook Jan 27, 2010 06:46 PM

                                                              Unless you are looking for the article containing the following "the famous Toaster House fires all of its employees for leaving the toaster on and almost burning down the diner..." your boolean shortened google search will yield zero reults.

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                                                              1. re: jfood
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                                                                smartie RE: jfood Jan 27, 2010 07:06 PM

                                                                I unplug quite a few appliances such as lamps, the toaster, electric kettle, phone charger when not in use. I have noticed quite a big drop in my electric bills since we started doing that.

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                                                                1. re: smartie
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                                                                  gloriousfood RE: smartie Jan 28, 2010 04:44 AM

                                                                  I've always done the same out of habit. My parents did this when I was growing up. Now, of course, we know that many appliances still consume energy even when they're turned off--TVs, microwaves, chargers, etc. I believe that my action is one of the main reasons why our electricity bill is lower in comparison to some of our neighbors.

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                                                                  1. re: smartie
                                                                    jfood RE: smartie Jan 28, 2010 04:47 AM

                                                                    Yeah, once you see the EMTs carry out a 14-year old dead girl on a stretcher with the covers over her face as a result of a house electrical fire you have a different perspective...it ain't paranoia as so many people have wrongly classified it.

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                                                                    1. re: jfood
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                                                                      GSM RE: jfood Jan 28, 2010 08:23 AM

                                                                      But just because a thing CAN happen does mean we must fear it will.

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                                                                      1. re: GSM
                                                                        jfood RE: GSM Jan 28, 2010 10:16 AM

                                                                        Ok you guys say paranoia, and fear. How about careful and concerned. You want to keep it on go right ahead, and jfood has not, repeat NOT, called anyone a name in any of these threads.

                                                                        Likewise jfood does not walk up to a drug addict and call him a name. Under your criteria, hey he may shoot jfood...

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                                                                        1. re: jfood
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                                                                          GSM RE: jfood Jan 28, 2010 12:44 PM

                                                                          Not sure I follow the drug addict analogy, nor do I see any name-calling going on here.

                                                                          But back to the topic at hand, I'm curious if many folks really do turn off circuit breakers before leaving the house (maybe just for vacations?) and how many feel surge protectors are necessary for any appliance, large or small?

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                                                                          1. re: GSM
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                                                                            latindancer RE: GSM Jan 28, 2010 01:12 PM

                                                                            I do not turn off circuit breakers before leaving the house....ever and I sincerely don't understand why anyone would.
                                                                            I use surge protectors for my coffee machine, my coffee grinder and my espresso machine, all of which are very high wattage and industrial quality and I don't want any of the internal elements burning out and destroyed if there is a power surge.
                                                                            The same goes for my office....I would assume most people use surge protectors with their computer for the same reason.

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                                                                      2. re: jfood
                                                                        BobB RE: jfood Feb 1, 2010 04:01 AM

                                                                        I'm not saying house electrical fires don't happen, of course they do. I'm saying they don't happen because you left an appliance plugged in, they happen because you let a cord get frayed, or overloaded an outlet with multiple plug splitters or too many extension cords, and/or don't have an up-to-code circuit breaker system.

                                                                        A healthy toaster plugged in 24/7 is not going to start a fire. Unless your house gets hit by lightning and isn't adequately protected, in which case the toaster is the least of your worries.

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                                                                2. chowser RE: rtms Jan 28, 2010 03:48 AM

                                                                  My friend said she always did that--put a pot in the oven for slow braising and then went to the park with her kids on Sundays. One day, they stayed home. Her oven caught fire and she said there were flames shooting out the back. Luckily they were home to turn off the circuit breaker and there was minimal damage. That's enough to convince me. I do, though, leave my crockpot. OTOH, they've made that oven where you leave a cold dish in, it keeps it cold until whatever time you program and then it turns on to heat it. If leaving an oven on is that dangerous, I'd think the liability would be too great for the company to produce it.

                                                                  If you're not a worrier and do it, I wouldn't leave a cake. The bake time is too short and you can easily be delayed for that long. You have a lot more leeway with a stew.

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                                                                  1. Andria RE: rtms Jan 28, 2010 06:26 AM

                                                                    A few weeks back, my mother left home to take her dog for a short walk. She fell less than half a block away, broke her femur, and couldn't get up. She was in so much pain she couldn't even remember my number so the ambulance could contact me! No, she didn't have anything on the stove or in the oven, but what if she had?

                                                                    You never know what will happen along the way, no matter what... don't risk it.

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                                                                      small h RE: Andria Jan 28, 2010 06:45 AM

                                                                      But your mother could as easily have fallen in her own home. Do you think the EMTs would've checked her stove before they took her to the hospital? (I honestly don't know the answer to this one, but I suspect it is "no.")

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                                                                        latindancer RE: small h Jan 28, 2010 07:23 AM

                                                                        That depends on where you live.

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                                                                          Andria RE: small h Jan 28, 2010 07:32 AM

                                                                          I'm sure they would have checked if they she had ID or perhaps even her cell phone on her at the time... and known where she lived. If she had fallen in her own home, they would have checked & noticed the stove or oven on.

                                                                          I think she will remember the cell phone & ID in the future.

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                                                                          1. re: Andria
                                                                            Davwud RE: Andria Jan 28, 2010 08:12 AM

                                                                            "If she had fallen in her own home, they would have checked & noticed the stove or oven on."

                                                                            What makes you say that??

                                                                            DT

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                                                                              Andria RE: Davwud Jan 28, 2010 06:52 PM

                                                                              I would assume they would check such a thing if someone falls in the house and cannot really communicate... wouldn't they? Seems logical to me, so I hope it is so.

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                                                                                small h RE: Andria Jan 28, 2010 07:02 PM

                                                                                It's possible. And I hope someone with actual experience in this will weigh in. But if I were in crisis, I would hope that the medical team's first - and only - priority was treating me, not roaming around looking for appliances to turn off.

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                                                                                  chowser RE: Andria Jan 29, 2010 03:02 AM

                                                                                  Chances are, if you have something in the oven, they'll smell it when they come in. I can't think of any food I make in the oven that doesn't. Although I guess it's possible to have a heart attack while preheating...

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                                                                                    Davwud RE: Andria Jan 29, 2010 03:13 AM

                                                                                    In an "Every second counts" situation do you think they're gonna worry about that??

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                                                                              KTinNYC RE: Andria Jan 28, 2010 06:48 AM

                                                                              If it was a pork shoulder or a stew in a low oven I doubt anything would happen except a ruined pan/pot and a smelly house. Food won't catch fire at such a low temperature.

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                                                                            3. Ima Wurdibitsch RE: rtms Jan 28, 2010 09:22 AM

                                                                              I worry about anything with a heating element. If it were convenient, I'd probably unplug the dryer and the stove (more for the burners than the oven portion, though). I only use the crockpot when I'm home. Toaster is always unplugged and in a cabinet after use. However, my coffee pot always stays plugged in... of course, now, I'm going to have to unplug it. :-)

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                                                                                KTinNYC RE: Ima Wurdibitsch Jan 28, 2010 09:33 AM

                                                                                But don't you a furnace in your home? If it's a gas or oil water heater there is a flame constantly on. Sorry if this gives you one more thing to worry about....

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                                                                                  Ima Wurdibitsch RE: KTinNYC Jan 28, 2010 10:19 AM

                                                                                  Fortunately, it's electric... I think.

                                                                                  I'm going to end up in a corner, rocking back and forth one of these days!

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                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                    im_nomad RE: KTinNYC Feb 13, 2010 05:01 PM

                                                                                    I have a wood/oil combo furnace and while I wouldn't typically use the wood side when I left for the day, i'd like to hope a little that such things are built to withstand enormous flames and heat, as opposed to an oven, which is also in the main area of your house. I try to keep it serviced regularly etc. And at least where I live (and due to my having had pipes in the house freeze and burst last year), the heating aspect is sort of necessary, while leaving the oven on is not. Control the controllable, to a degree, so to speak.

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                                                                                    buttertart RE: Ima Wurdibitsch Jan 28, 2010 10:16 AM

                                                                                    We came home from an overseas trip once to find our cat had evidently leaned against the switch on the coffeemaker (a Braun drip with the toggle switch on-off) and turned it on at some point during the considerable length of time we were gone. Coffeemaker was the worse for wear but nothing caught on fire - counters were of ceramic tile, may have been our saving grace. Always unplug coffeemaker since then, but leave everything else plugged in. The worst electrical disaster to befall us so far was the time our dishwasher was turned on as we were leaving for a few weeks and unbeknownst to us blew the circuit that the fridge was on. Three weeks later, freezer full of meat, charnel house on our return. Unforgettable.

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                                                                                    Parrotgal RE: rtms Jan 28, 2010 11:36 AM

                                                                                    This is all kind of timely for me since I burned up a toaster oven yesterday. Of course, I was using it at the time and I did not notice that a plastic lid had fallen onto the heating element when it was open. Even so, it's fortunate I had not even gone into the next room to do something, because it flared up quickly!

                                                                                    That said, I do leave the crockpot on all day, and don't unplug appliances of any kind when I leave the house. I would never leave anything completely unattended on the stovetop, although I might leave something slowly cooking in the oven. Considering how many pot holders I've burned up on my electric stovetop, I'm remarkably blase about the whole thing.

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                                                                                      sparkareno RE: rtms Jan 28, 2010 02:24 PM

                                                                                      So to all of you who unlplug everything I have 2 questions.
                                                                                      What about the clock on your microwave/coffee pot/DVD--do you reset the time each & every time you go in & out of the house?
                                                                                      How long does it take you to go around unplugging & replugging everything every time you come & go?
                                                                                      just asking because on a busy errands day, I could go in and out about 10 times--no way is anything getting unplugged (not that I would anyway). And if I had a roast cooking for hours on low in the oven--yes I would run out for a short time. I am more paranoid about my washing machine overflowing or the dryer catching fire.

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                                                                                        KTinNYC RE: sparkareno Jan 28, 2010 04:58 PM

                                                                                        I never set the time on my microwave. There are to many clocks around as it is.

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                                                                                        gryphonskeeper RE: rtms Jan 28, 2010 06:47 PM

                                                                                        I leave bones in a stock pot all the time overnight on my simmer burner in the back on extremely low heat. I also have left my oven with a roast in it on low with the oven timer (itr shuts the oven off at the preset time) and picked up the kids, went shopping. I have never unplugged my toasters, microwaves. I am not careless and leave fried chicken on the front burner, or the broiler on and went to chat with neighbors, but I am not "Monk" neurotic and have to touch every element to make sure its cold when I walk the dog.

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                                                                                          dmd_kc RE: rtms Jan 29, 2010 11:27 AM

                                                                                          A couple years ago, a friend of mine had a huge close call. Came home from a bar quite tipsy, and decided he needed some pasta to sober up. Put on the water to boil in a big copper-clad steel pot and headed to the living room to wait for it to boil.

                                                                                          He fell asleep in his chair and woke up three hours later to a horrible squealing sound coming from the kitchen. The pot was glowing RED HOT, all the water long since evaporated, and the copper layer completely ruined. He had to wrap his arm in several towels to be able to get it close enough to the stove knob to turn it off. Totally horrifying, as he lives in an apartment building on the ground floor. It could have turned into a major tragedy.

                                                                                          Since then, I've never left the room when I had a burner on. It's taken a major and concerted effort to convince myself it's OK to leave the slow cooker on for a few hours.

                                                                                          In your case, I'd leave it on low while in the condo, but there's no way I'd leave the apartment entirely, even for a few minutes.

                                                                                          The oven, I'd be slightly more comfortable with -- but I'm not sure I could bring myself to do it.

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                                                                                            KTinNYC RE: dmd_kc Jan 29, 2010 12:15 PM

                                                                                            Your friend was drunk, put a pot of water to boil, and fell asleep and somehow you're worried to leave the room when a burner is on? As long as you're sober and can remember that you are cooking I don't see where the concern comes from. If your friend got in a car accident when drunk would you worry about getting in an accident everytime you drove?

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                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                              Davwud RE: KTinNYC Jan 29, 2010 12:50 PM

                                                                                              If I'm worried that I'll forget the burner is on (or pass out/fall asleep) I'll set an alarm.

                                                                                              DT

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                                                                                                dmd_kc RE: KTinNYC Jan 31, 2010 10:40 AM

                                                                                                Just sayin' that made me even more gunshy than I was before.

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                                                                                                queencru RE: dmd_kc Jan 29, 2010 02:47 PM

                                                                                                This happened to a friend of mine as well. He had a gas stove and put some water on to boil and then passed out. When he woke up a few hours later he said the whole wall behind the stove was completely charred and flames were shooting up all over the place. I don't really think that's a reasonable concern for most people since most sober individuals aren't going to turn a burner on and then pass out while waiting for the water to boil.

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                                                                                                  im_nomad RE: dmd_kc Feb 13, 2010 05:03 PM

                                                                                                  I had a stone cold sober friend who mistakenly let a pot boil dry, which also happened to be a flawed pot in some way. The thing exploded in her kitchen ..... little pieces of hot metal all over the place, lots of damage.

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                                                                                                  nkeane RE: rtms Jan 29, 2010 12:06 PM

                                                                                                  ok, to assume that something is more likely to happen when you aren't there versus when you are, is illogical. Take me for example. I have been living on my own(or with a SO) for approaching 20 years. In all that time(cooking untold thousands of meals, pots of coffee, toast, umpteen gallons of stock slowly simmered, etc.) I have never once seen something that would have caused a fire had I not been there. Now, if I leave the house, why do the chances of those things happenening skyrocket? Logic would tell you that with no one there to influence(turn up, bump, knock things into) the chances are actually lower. To that extent, it would be safer if everyone left the house when the roast went in the oven!:-)

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                                                                                                    Rosemary Tagliatelle RE: nkeane Jan 31, 2010 03:17 AM

                                                                                                    Murphy's Law.

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                                                                                                      dmd_kc RE: nkeane Jan 31, 2010 10:42 AM

                                                                                                      The whole point is that if you're there, you can take action against it. You can keep a flaming paper towel from igniting the cabinets. If you aren't home, physics takes over.

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                                                                                                        nkeane RE: dmd_kc Feb 1, 2010 07:51 PM

                                                                                                        you missed the point of my post. Never have I *seen*(read:while I am home) anything that made me think, "wheeew! glad I was here, or the whole place woulda gone up!". So why would I spend 1 sec. worrying about it? Also, its called fire insurance.

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                                                                                                          c oliver RE: nkeane Feb 1, 2010 08:28 PM

                                                                                                          nkeane, *I* got your point. But I think it's best that you not try to confuse anyone with logic. I'm 62 y.o. and am in the exact position you describe. So I'm not going to worry about that. I live in a resort snow area so I DO worry about "flatlanders" who come here on weekends and don't have a clue how to drive. Now THAT scares me.

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                                                                                                          1. re: nkeane
                                                                                                            goodhealthgourmet RE: nkeane Feb 1, 2010 08:47 PM

                                                                                                            "Also, its called fire insurance."
                                                                                                            ~~~~~~
                                                                                                            those of us who live in Southern California are quite familiar with this particular concept ;)

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                                                                                                      2. Kajikit RE: rtms Jan 30, 2010 04:34 PM

                                                                                                        I wouldn't leave an open flame unattended. I'd be afraid of something blowing into the flame and burning the place down! And for paranoid reasons I just don't trust a gas oven.

                                                                                                        I slow-cook stuff in our electric oven but I try not to leave the building with it turned on just in case of disaster. (I just bought a crockpot for the specific purpose of being able to cook stuff overnight without worrying about the house burning down while I was asleep!)

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                                                                                                          feelinpeckish RE: rtms Jan 31, 2010 09:31 AM

                                                                                                          Well, I did ignore a pot of boiling water and to my chagrine and my wife's anger, I destroyed a good pot of hers. The fear of starting a house fire should have been fresh in my head as it has happened but it wasn't. Believe me, it will never happen again. and not because of the destroyed pot.

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                                                                                                            RGC1982 RE: rtms Jan 31, 2010 06:35 PM

                                                                                                            Let me share with you a hilarious moment in my family's history.

                                                                                                            1. Nanny and child were home, and chicken was in the oven in anticipation of dinner.
                                                                                                            2. Parents (child's grandparents) arrive unexpectedly at house at 4:30 PM because it was starting to snow, and they decided to detour to our house in New Jersey rather than try to make it all the way back to Eastern LI, where they lived.
                                                                                                            3. Husband never carries keys, only garage door opener.
                                                                                                            4. I was still on a train, making my way home for a 6:00 arrival.

                                                                                                            Yes, they all managed to get locked out of the house. Parents, child, nanny and husband (something happened to the garage door opener). All the while, the poor chicken was being overcooked in the oven. Fortunately, I managed to contact a neighbor with a spare key to let them in and prevent a fire. This was in the early days of cell phones, and thank goodness I was not adverse to carrying one of those clunkers around.

                                                                                                            So, this is one of the things you need to think about when you leave something in the oven or on the stove. What happens if you can't get back in? If all of these people can manage to lock themselves out of my house while a chicken is roasting the oven, anything is possible.

                                                                                                            P.S. We barely saved the chicken and had to supplement with frozen food in the freezer.

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                                                                                                              DGresh RE: RGC1982 Feb 1, 2010 04:11 AM

                                                                                                              I really can't imagine any condition under which a chicken left in the oven would catch fire. Be ridiculously over-cooked, yes. Catch fire, no. So there really wasn't a threat here. Is the alternative to turn the oven off when you walk down the driveway to get the mail, on the off-chance you lock yourself out? Seems a bit unnecessary.

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                                                                                                                latindancer RE: RGC1982 Feb 1, 2010 07:06 AM

                                                                                                                The only thing I find remotely unsettling is the fact you don't have a key outside the house in case one of you gets locked out.
                                                                                                                Nevermind the overblown, unrealistic 'catastrophe' you're eluding to with the chicken story.
                                                                                                                Depending on a neighbor for the spare key is not always helpful unless they're home 24/7.
                                                                                                                Being locked out of a house, accidentally, when the child is still in the house is a potential danger.

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                                                                                                                  Gio RE: latindancer Feb 1, 2010 07:56 AM

                                                                                                                  Châtelaines for everyone who lives in the house, I say.

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                                                                                                                    latindancer RE: Gio Feb 1, 2010 05:49 PM

                                                                                                                    "Chatelaines for everyone who lives in the house, I say."

                                                                                                                    I say you're right.

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                                                                                                                    queencru RE: latindancer Feb 1, 2010 08:39 AM

                                                                                                                    Having lived in several neighborhoods where breakins are not uncommon, I just don't think it's safe to leave a key outside the house where anyone can find it. Plus, RGC said the child was outside of the house with the nanny, not that the child was left home alone.

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                                                                                                                      latindancer RE: queencru Feb 1, 2010 05:38 PM

                                                                                                                      I didn't suggest that a key should be placed somewhere outside the house where someone can easily find it in an obvious place next to the front/back door. I never suggested the child was 'left home alone'.
                                                                                                                      I'm simply suggesting that a nanny who's left with a child should know just about every single possible remedy if something goes wrong when she/he's responsible for the child....
                                                                                                                      One of those is knowing where an extra key is just in case she's locked out of the house/apartment when/if it should happen.
                                                                                                                      I know of several instances when a nanny/parent/sibling has opened the door, to retrieve the mail etc., and watched as the wind promptly slams the door shut with children in the house.
                                                                                                                      It happens.

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                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                        Davwud RE: latindancer Feb 2, 2010 03:40 AM

                                                                                                                        "I know of several instances when a nanny/parent/sibling has opened the door, to retrieve the mail etc., and watched as the wind promptly slams the door shut"

                                                                                                                        Including the times that it has happened to me, I've never heard of it except in the movies or on food related forums.

                                                                                                                        DT

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                                                                                                                        1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                                          maplesugar RE: Davwud Feb 2, 2010 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                          My then 3yo & 18mo old locked me out of the house when I took recycling to the curb. They locked the deadbolt when they thought they were unlocking it and there I was stuck on the other side of the door. Thankfully nothing was on the stove and my friend who had our spare key was home but it was a scary couple of minutes for the kids and for me.

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                                                                                                                  3. re: RGC1982
                                                                                                                    Sam Fujisaka RE: RGC1982 Feb 1, 2010 07:46 AM

                                                                                                                    But, the nanny, child, and chicken were at home - inside the house. The nanny managed to get locked out when people arrived, leaving the flaming chicken and (what, the sleeping?) child in the house? Hoo boy!

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                                                                                                                      RGC1982 RE: Sam Fujisaka Feb 1, 2010 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                      No, no -- the nanny ran out to the driveway through the back door with my daughter in her arms to see the grandparents, who had just arrived in driveway. Not only did she lock herself out, neither of them had coats. Remember, it was snowing. The only thing locked in the house was the chicken in the oven.

                                                                                                                      Anyway, the point of this story is not to dwell on the antics of the idiot nanny I later fired, but to point out that ANYTIME you leave something on the stove or oven, or leave the house, you are technically taking some risk that you may not be able to get back to it. Technically, to respond to Dgresh, and before you sound soooo self righteous about this, it was a bonehead move by the nanny. As for keeping and carrying keys, those decisions are not the issue here. The discussion is about leaving unattended items cooking in the stove or oven, and unattended cooking is the single biggest cause of house fires. Perhaps the oven is a lot less likely to catch fire, but it can. I have had things catch fire in the oven before, so don't try to tell me it can't happen. I remember using a fire extinguisher to put out a fire just a few years ago. I didn't imagine using it.

                                                                                                                      Sam, talk some sense into these people here. I was only trying to point out that you can never plan for every possible scenario, and yes, leaving things in the oven while you go to the laundry room or the next door neighbors etc. is taking a risk. Yes, you should turn it off if you are going to be gone more than a few minutes. And, since this is a true story, it is not out of the realm of possibility.

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                                                                                                                        c oliver RE: RGC1982 Feb 1, 2010 03:18 PM

                                                                                                                        "unattended cooking is the single biggest cause of house fires. "

                                                                                                                        Just a quick google probably showed me 20 sites giving all different "single biggest cause". I do think it's alarmist to make that type of statement. I regularly cook things for six and eight hours and more and don't hesitate to leave the house, take a shower, whatever. As someone said, the odds don't change just because I'm in or out of the room. The odds are small enough, IMO, to make it worth it. Whether someone else does or doesn't is of no importance to me. But I don't think scaring people is appropriate.

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                                                                                                                          KTinNYC RE: c oliver Feb 1, 2010 03:45 PM

                                                                                                                          Agreed. According to US Fire Administration there were 401,000 house fires in 2002. Of these only 156,500 were kitchen fires, not even 40%.

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                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                                                            c oliver RE: KTinNYC Feb 1, 2010 03:49 PM

                                                                                                                            And of that number, I wonder how many were due to someone leaving the kitchen? And then there's toaster oven, stove top or oven? Oh and then high or low heat. Just too many variables, IMO, to make blanket statements.

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                                                                                                                              Davwud RE: c oliver Feb 1, 2010 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                              If I had to guess I'd say deep frying gone wrong would be number one. But what do I know??

                                                                                                                              DT

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                                                                                                                              1. re: Davwud
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                                                                                                                                KTinNYC RE: Davwud Feb 1, 2010 04:06 PM

                                                                                                                                "In most kitchen fires (51%), cooking materials, including food, were the material first ignited. More specifically, oil, fat and grease were the leading types of material ignited in kitchen fires (37%), as Figure 4 shows. This
                                                                                                                                is not surprising as oil and grease are highly flammable and can splatter or spill during cooking. Other foods or starches were the second most common material ignited (14%), followed by plastics (10%) such as appliance casings, cooking utensils, or wiring. Although not statistically severe in 2002, loose or flammable clothing worn near open flame cooking sources has the potential to ignite and cause injury. "

                                                                                                                                http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/statistics/na...

                                                                                                                                download: Causes of Residential Fires: 2006 Partial NFIRS Data

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                                                                                                                                1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                                                  c oliver RE: Davwud Feb 1, 2010 04:11 PM

                                                                                                                                  Yep, I sure don't turn my back on that!

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                                                                                                                          2. re: RGC1982
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                                                                                                                            latindancer RE: RGC1982 Feb 1, 2010 05:57 PM

                                                                                                                            "As for keeping and carrying keys, hose decisions are not the issue here."

                                                                                                                            Uh....I respectfully disagree.
                                                                                                                            If you had keys allowing you to enter back into the home you wouldn't have to worry, in the first place, about the chicken in the oven that's been left when nobody is able to gain access to take it out of the oven.
                                                                                                                            You're suggesting turning the oven off if I go to the laundry room a couple of rooms away? That is pure and simple, irrational thinking.

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                                                                                                                        2. re: RGC1982
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                                                                                                                          masha RE: RGC1982 Feb 1, 2010 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                          Freaky things happen and there is only so much you can do to protect against them. I have similar lockout story: DH was away for the weekend, I got up, started the coffee in the drip coffee maker, and then walked out the front door to get the Sunday paper, wearing only my pjs, bathrobe & barefeet. It was drizzling & a gust of wind sucked my front door shut, while I was outside, locking me out. After determining that I was indeed locked out, I walked over to my next-door neighbors to get the spare key, rehearsing a speech about my outfit. Imagine my chagrin when I realized that they too were away for the weekend. I returned to our place, to our backporch, and tried to remove the screen window from the open window in the back, which I was unable to do because of a mechanism on the screens intended to defeat burglars. I had pretty much determined that I would need to go to a different neighbor's and either call a locksmith to let me in, or borrow some sort of shears to cut the window screen, and was debating whether the locksmith or replacing the screen would cost more. I made one more attempt to remove the screen from the window, succeeded, and crawled back in through the open window.

                                                                                                                          Bottom line: There is only so much you can do to prevent weird things. If you did get locked out and did not have access with a key, you could always call a locksmith, or even the police, if there were an open flame.

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                                                                                                                          1. re: masha
                                                                                                                            huckfinn RE: masha Feb 1, 2010 02:32 PM

                                                                                                                            I hope that a take-away by those reading this thread is to have a spare house and car key in several strategic locations, apart from a neighbor.
                                                                                                                            Check the date on your kitchen fire extinguisher. And watch the toaster oven vigilantly while in use. I had a flaming inferno making garlic bread in one, and quickly put it out. It could have been a bad one had I not been there. And candles may be a nice seasonal or romantic touch, but they are trouble in the making.

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                                                                                                                            1. re: huckfinn
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                                                                                                                              RGC1982 RE: huckfinn Feb 1, 2010 05:43 PM

                                                                                                                              I've decided not to post anymore on this thread. I attempted to share a true story, and instead found that I was attacked -- accused of being an alarmist because "not even 40%" of house fires were caused by kitchen fires, versus 51% or more -- as if that really makes a difference. Thank you for your considerate response, and thanks to those who also posted considerate responses.

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                                                                                                                              1. re: RGC1982
                                                                                                                                c oliver RE: RGC1982 Feb 1, 2010 06:02 PM

                                                                                                                                A differing opinion is not an attack. A considerate response does not connote agreement.

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                                                                                                                          HillJ RE: rtms Feb 1, 2010 08:51 AM

                                                                                                                          This is the main reason why I have a dedicated PC in the kitchen. One toaster oven fire was all I needed to never leave a kitchen appliance involving heat unattended. I don't want my children to develop the habit either and they watch my every move! Plus a number of family mem's are in the fire dept SO...I wouldn't be able to face them :) over unattended appliances.

                                                                                                                          Years ago, my SIL left her oven cleaner running while out doing errands and came home to a huge smoke issue. She never left the stove unattended after that mess. Probably doesn't even use the auto cleaner anymore.

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                                                                                                                            HillJ RE: rtms Feb 1, 2010 08:34 PM

                                                                                                                            I thought the OP was asking a pretty straight forward question about safety. An unattended oven, 6-8 hours sounds risky to me. So does an unattended toaster oven set at 450 to make a quick pizza. So does forgetting about your boiling pot of eggs (and we all know what can happen there!). If you have any doubts about leaving anything unattended, sounds pretty straight forward to me: listen to what your gut is telling you. And, if you have no worries, no doubts, no concerns about any of these potential safety concerns-then good for you. But with most things, you need ONE bad experience-like your house up in flames-or that 40K kitchen you remodeled 5 years earlier gone to ash-to change your view. Safety doesn't need to be over thought or stats to prove the odds. Just go with your gut. Now I'm going to unplug my space heater.... :)

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                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                              c oliver RE: HillJ Feb 1, 2010 08:40 PM

                                                                                                                              Your last sentence points out the fact that there are probably greater risks in one's home than an oven set at 250 for 8 hours with a lid on the pot. But, yes, everyone's comfort level is different. Go for it.

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                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver
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                                                                                                                                HillJ RE: c oliver Feb 1, 2010 08:47 PM

                                                                                                                                But, yes, everyone's comfort level is different.
                                                                                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                Couldnt agree more which is why debating the point is at best subjective. Right?!
                                                                                                                                Better safe than sorry makes sense to me. If you can leave an oven unattended for up to eight hours, you're braver than I.

                                                                                                                                Actually, we don't own a space heater, I was adding another common example of appliances for the home often associated with fire hazard. Debated just as much.

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                                                                                                                            2. goodhealthgourmet RE: rtms Feb 1, 2010 08:52 PM

                                                                                                                              some of you were starting to make me wonder if i'm being completely silly and unjustifiably paranoid, so tonight i threw caution to the wind and set a pot of water on the open gas flame to start hard-cooked eggs while i took a quick shower in the next room. since i can be in & out of a shower as quickly as a fireman gets dressed, i knew the water wouldn't even have time to come to a boil before i dashed back into the kitchen to check on it. but i gave myself a good laugh in the shower when it dawned on me that if [heaven forbid] i slipped in there and knocked myself out, all bets would be off! :)

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                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
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                                                                                                                                HillJ RE: goodhealthgourmet Feb 1, 2010 08:56 PM

                                                                                                                                Ah, but the eggs were on your mind during your shower. In my case, I'd be so distracted by 10 other things...hence the computer in the kitchen.

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                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                  chowser RE: goodhealthgourmet Feb 2, 2010 02:24 PM

                                                                                                                                  All of this is making me think of that scenes in the Final Destination movies that involved fire in the kitchen, the fire never being the final cause of death. Just don't drink vodka from a leaking cup while working on the PC and cooking something in the kitchen or if you do, make sure your knives are safely secured.

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                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet RE: chowser Feb 2, 2010 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                                    never saw any of the movies, but i don't drink anymore, i use a Mac, and my knives are safely secured ;)

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                                                                                                                                2. decolady RE: rtms Feb 12, 2010 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                  Risk vs benefit. We all face choices like that every day with many things we do. Each of us has a different comfort level. I leave things in the oven that cook for a long time (eg stew, not cake). I also don't unplug appliances and regularly leave the crockpot on all night or while I am gone during the day. We turn on the dishwasher when we go to bed at night and leave the clothes dryer running when we leave. I would not leave something cooking on the gas cooktop. That is my comfort zone.

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                                                                                                                                  1. im_nomad RE: rtms Feb 13, 2010 05:24 PM

                                                                                                                                    I personally would not, if for no other reason than that I leave my dog home every time I leave the house, and while I realize I can't control everything, I do try to control what I can.

                                                                                                                                    When I was in university, I decided in the absence of a toaster, that I would make toast in the oven.....which I proceeded to forget about and leave the apartment, only to return several hours later to none too happy room-mates after the fire-department had been called.

                                                                                                                                    While I do agree with other posters that you must do what ever is within your comfort level, in shared accommodations like condos, you do sort of owe a little to your adjoining neighbours, to be safety conscious.

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                                                                                                                                    1. cuccubear RE: rtms Feb 15, 2010 07:50 AM

                                                                                                                                      My comfort level does not allow me to leave the house while something is cooking, the only reluctant exception being the crockpot, which I pull away from the curtains. I don’t leave the house with the washing machine, dryer or dishwasher running either. I might leave the tv on, or the computer or stereo.

                                                                                                                                      I have taken out the garbage, retrieved the mail or dumped the compost while roasting or baking something in the oven. I suppose I could have collapsed, been kidnapped or stricken with a sudden disabling illness, but I am comfortable taking that small chance. I’m cautious, but not feverishly paranoid enough for it to complicate my life.

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                                                                                                                                        hsk RE: rtms Feb 15, 2010 08:10 AM

                                                                                                                                        Never on the stove, even on low, but I really can't see any problem with leaving something unattended in the oven. I figure there's a reason for those programmable settings to set temperature and cooking time.

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                                                                                                                                          EliEats RE: rtms Feb 15, 2010 04:25 PM

                                                                                                                                          I'll dump the garbage or grab the mail with something on the stovetop, but that's about it. Though I'm on the first floor of an apartment and both those activities take less than a minute. I do sit in the other room right around the corner on my computer though.

                                                                                                                                          However, I do leave with the stove on for 15-20 minute intervals - running to the deli, etc. I think these are acceptable and responsible risk limits. Sort of like getting into a car. At this risk limit, something could happen, but unlikely and I'm not going to let the small possibility stop me from driving - aka: heading to the dry cleaner with a roast in the oven, etc.

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                                                                                                                                            givemecarbs RE: rtms Feb 15, 2010 04:30 PM

                                                                                                                                            Agree with the other posters about it not being worth the risk. But sometimes I get a touch of cabin fever on holidays like Thanksgiving, so after the bird is in the oven I have been known to take a little drive around the neighborhood just to freshen up. Also I've gotten lucky. Once I went away for the weekend and accidentally left a gas burner on all weekend long. Nothing happened but I was pretty upset with myself. Another time I worked in a small office that had been converted from an apartment. I loved to make a couple of baked potatoes for my dinner and once when I came back for my shift after two days off I noticed that the oven was still on. Whoops! I turned it off pronto and no one was the wiser but I try not to push my luck

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: givemecarbs
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                                                                                                                                              latindancer RE: givemecarbs Feb 15, 2010 05:09 PM

                                                                                                                                              "Once I went away for the weekend and accidentally left a gas burner on all weekend long".

                                                                                                                                              I don't think anyone's going to call someone paranoid for checking to make sure the gas burners or oven is off before you go away for the weekend. I do that every time I go out the door but I'm not inclined to unplug my toaster or espresso machine or coffee maker or anything else that has been mentioned here. Some things are necessary (like a gas burner with an open flame) but the other things, in my opinion, are unnecessary.

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                mcf RE: latindancer Feb 15, 2010 08:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                They're not necessary, but they are preventive of a very common tragedy.

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf
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                                                                                                                                                  latindancer RE: mcf Feb 16, 2010 08:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                  I would say 'common tragedy' is going overboard just a tad...

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                    mcf RE: latindancer Feb 16, 2010 08:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                    http://www.tcforensic.com.au/docs/art...

                                                                                                                                                    I was fortunate recently to have my dishwasher die before a fire started from exactly the condition discussed in the link above. Fires had been reported in that model but mine wasn't included in the recall notification.

                                                                                                                                                    http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/all_...

                                                                                                                                                    Leaving aside the deaths and injury numbers, the property losses per annum sure speak to how common an occurrence it is.

                                                                                                                                                    I'm not telling you what you should do, just pointing out how common and easily avoidable some risks are. And yeah, I turn off the water to my washing machine before I go on vacation. Once you see one hose connection burst, you never want that mess in your house again.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf
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                                                                                                                                                      latindancer RE: mcf Feb 16, 2010 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Here's the thing.
                                                                                                                                                      I could easily (if I choose) be paranoid about everything in my house being turned off for fear there could be a fire/flood any time of day.
                                                                                                                                                      This would require me, everytime I leave the house, unplugging electric blankets, televisions (I have 5), coffee makers, espresso machines, computers, washing machine and dryer, turning off the water to my toilets (they're known to backup and flood, refrigerator, stove, oven, turning the water off to the dishwasher, all the lamps in the house....each one of these has its 'danger if I thought hard enough about it. Then...getting into the car and driving in Los Angeles....holy @#$# that's another story altogether.
                                                                                                                                                      I suppose I could just go out and turn all the power off to the house, turn off the main water line and that would eliminate the whole thing...
                                                                                                                                                      I don't live that way and I certainly don't go online looking for things to worry about.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                        mcf RE: latindancer Feb 16, 2010 09:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Um, amusing, but unresponsive rant. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                        I was addressing your assertion that household appliance fires were not common by demonstrating that they are

                                                                                                                                                        What you do with that knowledge is your business and no one else's.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf
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                                                                                                                                                          HillJ RE: mcf Feb 16, 2010 09:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                          mcf, I applaud your energy on this. I feel the same way.

                                                                                                                                                          And to the CH's who's posts I enjoy yet feel very differently on this matter, fine. I hope you never have to experience an avoidable fire because of your own choices.

                                                                                                                                                          As far as I can tell, eating ones words isnt' the kind of CH experience we celebrate here.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                                                                            latindancer RE: HillJ Feb 16, 2010 09:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Actually I've had a house fire with major smoke damage.
                                                                                                                                                            I realized I needed help after becoming paranoid every time I left the house like some on this board.
                                                                                                                                                            It's debiliating, to say the very least.
                                                                                                                                                            "eating one's words' ?
                                                                                                                                                            Sad comment.

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer
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                                                                                                                                                              HillJ RE: latindancer Feb 16, 2010 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Okay I take the hit while your comments are what exactly? Calling someone paranoid, is that lovely? But it serves me right for stooping w/you.

                                                                                                                                                              My family & I lost our third home to fire. Changed whatever my thoughts were on this topic for all time. I wasn't paranoid then, I'm not now. Wiser; unwilling to take chances that are avoidable to a certain level and not willing to let my own children think unattended appliances are a good idea or even safe.

                                                                                                                                                              The only sad comment I see are those who might think unattended appliances, kitchen fires and the like aren't common *enuf* to be mindful of while cooking, baking, etc.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                                mcf RE: latindancer Feb 16, 2010 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                I want to state unequivocally that it was not my intention to show you up or to make you eat your words. I hope I focused narrowly on the difference in our risk assessments. It's touchy for me, too, just months after finding that the dishwasher could have killed us or burnt our house down had it shorted before it stopped functioning.

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                                                                                                                                                            2. re: mcf
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                                                                                                                                                              KTinNYC RE: mcf Feb 16, 2010 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Your numbers don't demostrate your contention that these are very common occurences. 485 lives taken in house fires is not a very large number in a country with over 300 million people. On the other hand there are over 30,000 fatalities from people involved in motor vehicle accidents. I bet you take car trips all the time when it isn't really necessary and you are more then 60 times as likely to be killed in your car then in a house fire.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC
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                                                                                                                                                                HillJ RE: KTinNYC Feb 16, 2010 09:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                All that might be true but can you really compare unattended oven or stove with being taken out on the road?

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                                                                                                  KTinNYC RE: HillJ Feb 16, 2010 09:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  If you only count unattended ovens the risk is even less. I was counting all house fires. So no, it's not comparable at all it is much much more dangerous to get in a car.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC
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                                                                                                                                                                    HillJ RE: KTinNYC Feb 16, 2010 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    I suppose the fact that standard vehicles don't typically come outfitted with a kitchen, microwave or oven helps!

                                                                                                                                                                    So what are the stats for RV fires, trailers and houseboat kitchen, etc? At least find me a kitchen that is comparable on land or sea.

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                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: HillJ
                                                                                                                                                                    mcf RE: HillJ Feb 16, 2010 10:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    I certainly don't.

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                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: KTinNYC
                                                                                                                                                                    mcf RE: KTinNYC Feb 16, 2010 10:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    The number of deaths isn't nearly indicative of the number of incidents, most of which don't cause deaths.

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                      chowser RE: mcf Feb 16, 2010 10:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      The number of deaths, or even incidences, mean nothing without knowing the number of times people do it. Only 35 people die a year from parachuting but that doesn't mean it's twice as safe as taking a shower (where 70 die a year). That said, it really is about personal risk. I buckle up every time I get in the car but many people I know don't. I'll leave the crockpot on but not the oven when I leave the house.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
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                                                                                                                                                                        KTinNYC RE: mcf Feb 16, 2010 10:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        You honestly think there are more fires cause from cooking regardless of deaths then there are car accidents? I'm not even going to bother looking up the stats because this is a fruitless discussion with you because you are so entrenched in your beliefs.

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                                                                                                                                                      2. mcf RE: rtms Feb 15, 2010 05:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                        I often leave the house while my gas oven is on. Sometimes I set it to turn on after I leave and to turn off before I get home. I never leave the house while the stove is on, but I do leave the room. I do listen for crackling flames, though, if that helps. :-)

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think it's at all irresponsible (or I wouldn't do it) to leave when the oven is on and has an on/off timer, especially, any more than it would be to leave a slow cooker unattended as it's made to be used.

                                                                                                                                                        But open flames are a whole nuther thang.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. The Chowhound Team RE: rtms Feb 16, 2010 01:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Folks, this thread seems to be going in circles at this point, so we're going to lock it.

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