Safety Issues

Microwave Oven Dangers

Explosive Microwave Danger: Superheating' Can Cause Violent Bubbling by ABCnews.com
� Patty Long put water in the microwave and waited three minutes for it to boil, but something seemed wrong: no bubbles.

So she heated the water a little longer. When she took it out, Long recalls, the water "exploded like a bullet up into my face. It hit the ceiling too."

Long was rushed to the emergency room, where she was treated with first- and second-degree burns all over her face. Even worse, the corneas of her eyes had been scalded.

"I was afraid I would never see my kids again," says Long, who lives in Naperville, Ill. It took six months of treatment for Patty to fully recover her sight.

Boiling Without Bubbles
Experts say that what caused Long's injury is known as "superheating," which is one of the most potentially hazardous problems that can occur when heating water or other liquids in a microwave oven.

The scientific definition of superheating is that water can go above boiling temperature without any bubbles forming. "It's hotter than it should be for normal boiling to occur, and yet it doesn't boil," say Louis Bloomfield, physics professor at the University of Virginia. In a process called nucleation, the energy that's already in the water, however, can be triggered by a granule � such as a tea bag, instant coffee or a utensil � which can then cause the water to erupt.

"Anything that triggers the boiling once you've reached that temperature will cause catastrophic, very sudden flash boiling," explains Bloomfield. "And it can spray the water � all over the room, the microwave or you."

Preventing Microwave Hazards
Here are some tips to prevent superheating and other microwave problems:

Risk of Burns from Eruptions of Hot Water Overheated in Microwave Ovens

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Smoke / Fire Detectors

There are two types of detection used in smoke/fire detectors:

The most common and least expensive type are the ionization detectors. Ionization detectors are best at detecting fast flaming fires.

Photo Electric
The least common and more expensive type are the Photo Electric detectors. Photo Electric detectors are best at detecting slow smoldering fires.

Ionization detectors take two times as long to detect slow smoldering fires as Photo Electric detectors.

It's is recommended that you get both types of detectors or get a combination unit. First Alert has a combination unit.

Safety Precautions

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General Information

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
CPSC, an independent Federal regulatory agency, helps keep American families safe in their homes by reducing the risk of injury or death from consumer products. http://www.cpsc.gov/

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
"The mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment � air, water, and land � upon which life depends." http://www.epa.gov/

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