Microwave Oven Safety for Seniors – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Many seniors who are aging in place prepare some of their meals and snacks in the convenience of their microwave ovens.

It requires little preparation and one touch operation.

But how safe is the food they prepare in a microwave — and how safe are our senior loved ones when they use theirs?

Because there is real danger when microwave ovens are in use, the Food and Drug Administration regulates them to help keep us all safe.

There are specific safety guidelines that manufacturers must meet to protect our health.

Microwave Injuries

When used correctly and kept in good working condition, microwave ovens are generally safe.

However, there are injuries that frequently occur and can happen to our seniors putting them at risk.

Some common injuries include:

  • Burns from hot containers or eating hot foods
  • Scalding from super-heated water
  • Exploding foods
  • Microwave radiation if there is leakage
  • Newer pacemakers no longer get interference from microwaves as many believe but check with your senior’s doctor to see if their device could be affected

Safety Tips

The Food and Drug Administration offers these safety tips to help keep our seniors safe during meal preparation:

  1. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use. Read the owner’s manual to ensure you are operating safely, including never running a microwave when empty, never using one if the fan or turntable go on when the door is opened, and following recommendations for cooking times.
  2. Use only microwave safe containers. Don’t use metal or aluminum foil or any containers that will melt during cooking.
  3. Avoid super-heated water. This is water that reaches a temperature higher than boiling temperature. Adding ingredients such as instant coffee or sugar to the water prior to heating will help reduce this danger.
  4. Check oven for leakage or damage. Check the hinges and latches to be sure they operate correctly. Stop using microwave ovens whose doors don’t close tightly or are bent or warped.
  5. Don’t use if microwave operates while the door is open. The radiation exposure is greater when this is the case therefore the FDA warns to stop using immediately if this occurs.

When your senior’s microwave oven is working properly and the door closes fully, it is safe to operate.

If used properly, a microwave can be a great convenience, making it easier for our senior loved ones to maintain a nutritious diet.

Remind them to not overcook foods as some could start a fire when overheated.

Additional Resources

Here are a few more kitchen and home safety tips to help you keep your senior safe at home.