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Safety & Prevention

Microwave Safety Tips to Prevent Burns

Microwave ovens can be quick and convenient to use, but easy access poses a danger to children.

Can your toddler open a microwave?

Toddlers as young as 17 months can start a microwave, open the door and remove the contents, putting them at risk for burn injuries. Even if a microwave is placed up high, a child may climb on furniture or other objects to reach it. Safety is often overlooked; microwaves ovens are mistakenly not viewed as dangerous. 

About microwave-related injuries to children:

Most of the kids who end up in burn units were not burned in fires; they were burned by food or something involving the preparation and consumption of food. 

About 155,959 microwave-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms from 1990 through 2010, according to national data. Almost three-quarters of injuries to children younger than five were burns.

Patients usually were injured by spilled hot water or food, a splash or explosion, or contact with a hot item. Children also can be burned when opening microwave popcorn bags and other containers, or eating food that is cooked unevenly.

No safety measures exist to protect kids from microwaves. Parents need to be vigilant and be aware that this is a real risk in their own homes.

Quinlan "Doing what they’d seen their parents and caregivers do, young children would open a microwave oven door themselves and pull out the heated contents, but then they would spill it onto themselves. One patient, a two-year-old girl, opened a microwave and took out scalding hot ramen noodles that spilled all over the front of her. Even after multiple surgeries and a prolonged burn unit stay, she will have scar tissue covering her entire chest and abdomen for the rest of her life. My colleagues and I resolved to find a way to help prevent these burns." 

Read the full AAP Voices blog,  Fusing Research and Advocacy to Prevent Scald Burns in Young Children, by Dr. Kyran Quinlan,  here. 

How to keep your kids safe around microwaves:

The AAP recommends parents follow these tips to keep young children safe around microwaves:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instruction manual for recommended operating procedures and safety precautions.

  • Stir food well or let it stand for two minutes before tasting it so the heat can distribute evenly.

  • Make sure young children cannot reach the microwave.

  • Never leave a young child alone while food is cooking in the microwave.

  • If children are too young to follow written directions, they are too young to use a microwave oven without supervision.

Additional Information:

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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