Monday, November 21, 2016

The Fire

Yesterday, I was doing laundry when I heard my older daughter screaming.  Apparently, she put something metal in the microwave and it was spinning around on the tray, shooting up orange flames.

Now I feel she's old enough to use the microwave, but at some point, everyone accidentally puts something metal in the microwave (this was a piece of shiny wrapping that food was wrapped in).  But she wasn't old enough, apparently, to know what to do when it caught on fire.

I've set small fires to the microwave before, but this was quite a dramatic fire.  And I realized that my two kids were in the house and I was the only adult.  So it was up to me to either extinguish this fire or figure out the next step.

Fortunately, the second I turned the microwave off, the fire went out.  Good thing, because I really didn't know what the next step would be for a microwave fire.  Would water make it worse, like for grease fires?  Would a towel have been better?  Clearly there was no time to google it.

Sometimes it's scary being the adult.


  1. When in doubt, use the fire extinguisher. Smothering the fire often works as well, though if it's an electrical fire, turning off the source works best I think (feel to correct me if I'm wrong!).

  2. Yes, by all means get a fire extinguisher if you don't already have one. The cylinder should have icons on it showing the types of fires it will extinguish--electrical, grease/liquids, etc. It's a good idea to have one in the kitchen, bedrooms, and in any room with electronics.

    I had a small fire in a microwave many years ago caused by a twist tie I hadn't removed. I happened to be ironing at the time (what's that?) and put it out with a spray bottle of water. (The plastic bag was on fire, not the wiring of the microwave. BTW, I don't put plastic in the microwave anymore, either.)

    Queen Anne's Lace

  3. Small dry extinguisher (make sure it's rated ABCD and K) is not a bad idea. And then teach youngsters to use it.

    For info on ratings:

  4. Goodness.... put on your oven mitts, grab it and put it in the sink and pour water on it. Do Americans really have fire extinguishers in their houses?

    1. Uh, yes? It's recommended basic kitchen equipment.

  5. Combustion is unlikely to continue when the microwave is de-energized. If it does it will soon exaust the oxygen supply inside the microwave cabinet. It might smoulder for a while but probably isn't going to set your apartment on fire. Keep an eye on in through the window and leave it alone.

    Typical dry powder fire extinguishers will make a real mess, especially the ABC rated ones with sticky powder rather than just sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Shooting an exsinguisher in your kitchen is probably going to make a bigger mess than the tiny fire you put out. If if it isn't a tiny fire that you can smother with a pot lid, closing the oven, etc. than you may be better off evacuating and sounding the alarm.

  6. Are you in Canada

  7. Turn off energy source and wait. If it gets worse and you're not sure: fire extinguisher!

  8. We don't have a fire extinguisher. And I feel nervous about the possibility of using one....

  9. My father got me a fire blanket when I first lived on my own . I've glad i've never had to use it but it's hung in all my kitchens. Basically a sheet of fire retardant material folded in such a way you can pull it out in a second and smother the fire.

  10. There should be a dead switch in your apartment, usually near the front door. When you turn this off it switches off the power to your apartment (much safer than turning it off directly at the source, which may have become energized).
    If it doesn't go out by itself, I am a big fan of fire blankets. We have a couple in our kitchen (one at each end, our kitchen is very long and narrow), and one on the second floor in the study (huge number of electronics, and I have a microwave and kettle in there for when going downstairs is sometimes too much effort).

  11. I told hubby this story and within a few hours I had a minor range fire of my own. I'm glad I had been thinking about options to put a fire out.

    I used the metal bread (raising) bowl that was in the drainer. It wasn't enough to put it out quickly because it was too big to seal on the stove, but it knocked it down enough to blow out the rest of the way.