Cooking in Kitchenettes: 6 Safety Tips for Microwaves and Hot Plates

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Cooking in kitchenettes is made much easier with the use of compact cooking tools like the microwave and hot plate. Nevertheless, cooking in small quarters can make you more susceptible to injury. Be careful when cooking with the microwave and hot plate and remember these tips:

1. Always Use Oven Mitts

It’s typical to think that the microwaves and hot plates may not get as hot as an oven or a full stove top, especially since you’re dealing with smaller spaces in kitchenettes. However, food cooked in both microwaves and hot plates can easily get just as hot as food cooked in ovens, as can the cookware you use. Always wear oven mitts when handling food that’s been cooking as well as their containers.

2. Don’t Use Metal in the Microwave

Metal pots and pans are sometimes usable on the hot plate, but they’re huge fire hazards in the microwave. Metal damages the microwave and can also translate to fires in kitchenettes, so avoid all kinds of metal, such as pots, pans and utensils. This includes even aluminum foil. Instead, cook with microwave-safe glassware and plastic containers.

3. Be Extra Cautious with a Hot Plate

Because you can usually cook food directly on a hot plate (although you can typically also use either glassware or metal pots and pans—check your model for types of approved cookware), your hands will be closer to the source of the heat. Use tongs to grab anything off of the plate that you need and wear oven mitts when grabbing or turning the foods with the tongs, in case of hot oil or fat splatter.

4. Make Sure Nothing Flammable Is Near Either

Space is limited in kitchenettes, so it can be tempting to cram everything atop your small counter space or even bring a hot plate over to a table. However, remember that both the microwave and the hot plate are fire hazards—especially the hotplate. Give both appliances ample space to cook and make sure no flammable items are nearby. Only place the appliances on hard surfaces, preferably atop a large glass potholder.

5. Tie Back Hair and Don’t Wear Loose Clothing

The microwave can typically cook food in a way that won’t pose extra risk to your safety, but hot plates are significantly more dangerous. Because you lean over this very hot surface, make sure that your hair is tied back (if applicable) and none of your clothing is so loose that it hovers over the plate. Hair and clothing can catch fire very quickly when coming into contact with a hot plate.

6. Unplug When Done

Always unplug your hot plate when it’s not in use so that an accidental bump doesn’t cause the plate to turn on unattended. A microwave poses a bit less risk if you leave it plugged in unattended; nevertheless, you can cut back on power usage in your apartment by unplugging it when not in use.

Practice cooking safety with the microwave and hot plate and you’ll find that cooking in kitchenettes isn’t as much as a challenge as you might have feared. Still, taking extra precautions in small spaces is a smart idea.

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