An Important Safety Reminder, and Reader Request.

(originally posted in August 2008)

Hi there,

I received this email tonight and it scared me. I'm going to copy and paste it in it's entirety--please take the time to read it.

thank you.

If you use a crockpot you're going to need to read this. Safety first, always!



I just wanted to share something with you and to make a special request.

First to start with, I just got out of the hospital today (I am doing better thank you) and I was trying to catch up on emails. As your email came up, it jogged my brain to share this experience that I just had this past week.

On the day I went in to the hospital Tuesday a week ago, I used my Crockpot. I started it 10:00 AM and went about the days tasks, around 3:00 PM I began to exhibit symptoms of heart attack.

I gave in around 4:15 PM to my concern that I was having one. I told my hubby it was time to head to the hospital. We canceled, an appointment with a foundation repair company, and handy man appointment and rushed out the door.

Yes, the crockpot was left on and it was not even on my mind as we hurried out the door nor did my sniffer smell the delicious food aroma. Around 10:45 at night laying in the ER it hit me like a brick that it was still on and on high temp.

Now thinking this, I really I felt awful. My head was pounding as I remembered nobody had keys to the house (just changed locks). The hospital staff had to find my hubby that had went to get some food somewhere in the building.

He was unaware of the Crockpot being on, if he did... he did not have it on his mind. My over extended, tired, worried hubby had to race home and to turn it off. His health was not that great either and it was more stress for him to deal with.

Luckily, this story is has good ending. Nothing in the Crockpot burned too badly but the juices were gone. The house was still standing and the pets still waiting happily for their owners (mommy and daddy) to come home.

The end could have been very bad.

As I was in the ER for a long period of time.During which time, I had seen many people coming and going some not going anywhere for obvious reasons.

My eyes caught sight of some firefighters that came in wearing their wet suits at least part of them. Laying there, I thought how bad it would be for one of those men or women to lose their lives or even a neighbor to if they were to go inside my house, if it was burning only to try to rescue an empty house.

One that had a Crockpot that started the fire. By now reading this, I think you're seeing the picture that I saw.

Nightmare, yes, it was a nightmare but somewhere some time in my life time someone has lived out that nightmare. Reason, I am bringing this up is I realize we cannot control all things in our lives but we do have to plan wisely for the unexpected and make good decisions as our decisions will affect others when using our cooking appliances.

DFW Area, Texas


Please always, always use your best judgement when using any appliances. If you are working with a slow cooker that does not have a safety feature that turns to warm or off when cooking is done, please consider upgrading to a newer model. (I use these programmables, but any on the market with a countdown timer are good choices).

 Please refer to the manufacturer's instructions of your particular slow cooker make and model.

thank you.

Dianna, I am so glad that you are okay.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at August 26, 2016

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What they say about this article

  1. I am so glad that everyone was okay!!
    Now, color me ignorant, but I didn't even know that they made crockpots that turn off automatically!! I guess I will have to put a new crockpot on my Christmas list this year. Sheesh... I didn't think mine was even outdated, as I've only had it a little over 10 years! Now I'm going to go feel old.

  2. I'm glad everyone was all right, too, but I think this is a good reminder that it's worthwhile to have at least one neighbor/family member/someone trustworthy with a key to your house. I have three small children and it's inevitable that we will have to rush to the ER unexpectedly. I have a "contigency plan" of where the other kids get dropped off, who has keys, etc.

  3. Using a lamp/appliance timer is also an option. (just be sure to check the wattage rating or else you'll have another fire hazard).

    Great safety reminder.

  4. I wanted to add something that we do for our crockpot that is without a timer. On Sundays we use it so we have a hot meal when we get home from church. But sometimes I cook something that doesn't really need cooking just heated up or only needs a couple of hours. So we use a timer that you would use for lights etc. You set the time on it say it's 6am but you want it to turn on at 10am and turn off at 12pm you can set it for the time to turn on and turn off. So if we are later than we expected it turns off and nothing gets over cooked or burned. The timer would turn back on 12 hours later if we didn't come home at all and would go through the same timing etc. But it still gives us a littlr more control over our timing.


  5. I was also going to suggest the light timer, but I see others beat me to it. I use it a lot since I am often using the crockpot on days when I will be gone much longer than the designated cooking time, and it works great.

  6. I just bought this and I really like it. If you have a coupon for BBB, it makes it even more affordable.

  7. Anonymous8/06/2008

    Glad that turned out all right. That really makes me appreciate my "smart" Crockpot that is full of chili right now.

  8. Anonymous8/06/2008

    The same thing would have happened if she was using the stove or the oven, so I don't see the big deal that it was a crockpot.

  9. Wow!! what a great reminder. i just received my crock - with auto timer and 'warm' switch at christmas. i'm so happy not to have my old one - that wouldn't get hot unless first turned to 'high' then to 'low'. DH (a firefighter himself) has walked out of the house forgetting the tea kettle was warming on the stove - he'd NEVER think of the crockpot.

    I'm glad all turned out alright for her - hope all is well with everyone.

  10. I always put my crock pot in the oven if I am going out (I keep it plugged in, my cord happens to reach.) I figure if a fire started the lack of oxygen in the oven would help put it out, plus ovens are in general made of fireproof material :)
    You could also put it in the sink or microwave (if it fits) as a second choice.

    I also put my ice cream maker in the oven when I am making ice cream if it is a warm day. That way the ice cream maker has a better chance to stay cold and do its magic! :)

  11. I need scary stories like that to keep me on track. Thank you for sharing. I am off to find a smart crockpot tomorrow. Can I find one in stainless steel? My husband thinks I'm the only female that prefers stainless steel appliances over jewelry. I'm really not the only one, am I?

  12. Hello, please let me say first of all that I am very happy you are okay and back home with your family. I had a similar scare a few years ago. On the subject of electric appliances, your words were a good reminder on how we need to always be constantly on alert when using them, especially when the unexpected happens. Your blog is wonderful and I found it a while ago but this is the first time I have left a comment. Thank you for all th delicious recipes I am looking forward to trying and good health to you and all your loved ones.

  13. Anonymous8/06/2008

    I'm sorry, I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now in my Google Reader, and I have to say I think this woman's story sounds a little shady.

    A house is not going to burn down because a crockpot was left on. She should have been more concerned for her health and had a neighbor or relative stop in and unplug it.


  14. Wow.. I tell you.. a good dose of reality scares the pee-waddle out of me everytime.. but I appreciate that you shared so that we can all be reminded of things we so often let go... Glad everything was ok... and I hope you are on the road to a speedy recovery! :)

  15. So happy everyone is ok. Diana!

    If you cannot afford a new pot, how about plugging it in to a timer in case of an emergency like this?

  16. Anonymous8/21/2008

    I am also glad everything worked out well for you. I wanted to add one thing about getting a new crockpot and choosing a model. My crockpot not only goes to "warm" when the timer is done but has a digital timer that I set. I choose low or high then set the time in 30 minute intervals.

  17. My first concern when reading about crockpots that turn OFF, is that the food might not be safe to eat if left ignored for too long. If the crockpot instead turned to "keep warm" at least you don't have the worry of food unsafe to eat.

  18. My crockpot has a timer feature but I am still concerned about power surges, wiring problems, etc. (yeh, I'm on medication!) When leaving the crockpot unattended, I place it in the kitchen sink and plug it in to a power strip with a surge protector.

  19. I hadn't thought of that - so - perhaps I should use my adaptor plug that has a timer on :-) Thank you - very important post!

  20. I only use my crock pot when I'm home all day. Yes, I'm that paranoid. I also put in on a lipped baking sheet on top of the stove.

  21. I have a friend with a similar story, only she was blocked from her house because of a forest fire. The authorities were happy to stop by and unplug it for her.

  22. I don't want to minimize something if it is a serious threat, but...WOULD a crockpot cause a fire if it was left on for an unplanned length of time? They don't just get hotter and hotter and hotter, do they? And if they do, what would be ignited? The crocks are ceramic - not going to burn. There's a heavy glass lid on top. I get it that the liquid would eventually be removed as steam escaped from between the lid and the crock, and maybe the remaining food would get cooked into hard lumps of whatever, but would the food actually burst into flames? And if it did, would the fire be able to escape from the lidded crock?
    Again - not trying to minimize the email-writer's fears, and I'm sure she felt better knowing the crockpot was unplugged. But I'd like to hear from a firefighter or someone who knows the answers to questions about this.