is it safe to leave the oven on when not at home

Is It Safe To Leave The Oven On When Not Home Or Overnight?

The short answer to this question is NO. 

We all know that human beings have different degrees of risk-adversity, but fire is fire and should be taken seriously- even when the risk of fire is low, the consequences can undoubtedly be lethal. 

Most oven manufacturers, even those that make products with super clever safety devices, alert consumers to the dangers of unattended ovens over long periods of time. 

How dangerous is it to leave an oven on when not home or overnight? 

Leaving the oven unattended for a prolonged period of time can go from quite unsafe to extremely dangerous. 

If you have an oven that turns off automatically, it can be safe to leave it unattended provided you have followed all manufacturer’s instructions. In that case, it is assumed that the oven has been turned off by its automatic mechanism. 

But let’s go back to the original question. It is quite unsafe to leave an electric oven on when not at home or overnight (when asleep) and it is extremely dangerous to leave a gas oven on unattended for long periods of time!

Leaving A Gas Oven On

Let’s start with ovens that are powered by gas. They work by burning gas. 

Things that can go wrong with a gas oven include: fat or oils from food leaking towards the flames and combusting, gas not properly burned resulting in the release of carbon monoxide (an extremely lethal gas!), the release of carbon dioxide – less dangerous than carbon monoxide, but still not safe. 

Although most modern gas ovens have shut off devices that block gas release. 

Leaving an Electric Oven on

Moving on to electric ovens. 

Electric ovens can be considered a lot safer than their gas counterparts, however, they are still a potential source of house fire. Anything that involves heat and electricity should be taken seriously. 

Below is a list of everything you need to know about leaving the oven on! 

How long can ovens be left on?

There is no straightforward answer or a precise time, however, most ovens are designed to be on for long periods of time. Long enough to cook a big piece of roasted meat such as Turkey. 

While you are not expected to be glued to the oven for the entire length of the cooking process, regular checks are highly recommended. 

how long is it safe to leave oven on
When the oven is on, regular checks are recommended. 

Which brands of oven turn off automatically?

Luckily, there are many brands – such as LG, GE, Fisher & Paykel and more – that make ovens that are equipped with a timer that can be pre-set to the desired cooking times and also models that have an automatic turn-off device that kicks in after a number of hours. 

What to do when someone left the oven on all night?

If that has already happened and no fire has occurred, you can take a deep breath! No one was harmed! Forgetfulness is human and we all do it from time to time. 

It is important though to distinguish between occasional episodes of forgetfulness and regular ones that potentially put our lives at risk. If such episodes are happening regularly, it is a good idea to talk to a doctor and to look into safety devices that can bring us peace of mind. 

Is it safe to leave the oven door open for heat?

No, unless you have just turned it off. 

Ovens are an enclosed cooking system, making them safer than stovetops. Leaving them open – while turned on – increases the risk of fire. Nevertheless, if you just finish baking something and have turned the oven off, it is okay to leave the door open and make the most of its warmth. 

With their doors wide open, ovens tend to cool down pretty quickly. 

How Do Oven Fires Start

Any fire requires three elements to start: fuel, heat element, oxygen. 

Can electric ovens cause carbon monoxide?

No, as there is no combustion happening inside electric ovens. As opposed to gas ovens, electric ones work by heating metal elements – there is ‘no burning/combustion’ happening. 

Can electric ovens explode?

Yes, they can. Luckily, they are pretty rare! 

The most common type of ‘oven explosion’ is the explosion of its glass door.

oven glass door

Can I use an electric oven to heat my house?

Ovens are not designed as house heaters! That should not be their primary use. It can be a positive side-effect though!

In the cooler months, you may take advantage of the heat provided by the oven as you use it for its main purpose – cooking! It is only natural that the kitchen’s temperature will go up when the oven is on. When you finish cooking and after you have turned the oven off,  you may also leave the oven door open for the warmth to spread throughout the room. 

Other than the beneficial side-effect, ovens should not be used as heaters. Safety issues aside, they are not very efficient as heaters. 

What are the safest toaster ovens for elderly?

Elderly people are not a ‘one-type’. They are different individuals. So, the safest toaster ovens will depend on their lifestyle, their priorities and their safety needs. 

As a general rule, the safest toaster ovens are those with automatic shut-off. Another important safety tip is to always keep them clean and free from residual food (such as bread crumbs) that lands down the bottom and burns. 

What toaster ovens have automatic shut off?

There are many toaster oven brands that have an automatic shut-off, including – but not limited to – Black + Decker, Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach. 

Safety Tips for Ovens

children opening an oven

Fire alarms

Make sure you have fire alarms at home and test them regularly. Fire alarms save lives and are one of the most useful tools we have against the threat of fires. 

Consider switching to an oven with automatic timer-controlled shut-off

If you can afford it, switching to an oven that has a timer-controlled shut-off can be a great option. 

Final Thoughts On Oven Safety 

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of house fires in the US. Admittedly, stovetops present much higher risks than ovens, where cooking happens within an enclosed space. So, while ovens are less risky than stovetops they still need close attention. 

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