The Safety of Leaving an Electric Stove on All Night

Electric stoves are involved in more than half of all appliance-related blazes, according to the Insweb insurance website. Most of those fires are caused by careless cooking practices, but electric burners can cause fires in other ways if they're misused. You run several risks if you leave an electric stove on all night rather than limit its use to cooking, whether your appliance has exposed burners or its elements are encased under a flat top.

Hot Hob
credit: Nick Free/iStock/Getty Images
Unattended and hot electric glass cooktop.

Children and Pets

Children and pets can easily get burned if you leave an electric stove on all night. Pets are usually free to wander through the household, and children may wake up earlier than adults or get up during the night. A youngster might inadvertently touch the stove top and suffer a serious burn. This is particularly true if the child is tall enough to reach the heating elements with an outstretched arm but cannot see the actual burner. Cats might jump up onto the stove and injure themselves, especially if the stove top has a flat surface.

Fire Risks

Electric stove burners generate enough heat to start a fire if they're exposed to flammable materials. Stoves with smooth, flat tops make attractive storage surfaces. Someone in the household might inadvertently set something flammable on top of the stove without realizing that the burner is on. Never allow anyone to store things on your stove's cooking surface, even temporarily, and never do so yourself. Eliminate anything around the stove that could fall on it and ignite if a burner is left on. The U.S. Fire Administration warns that items like wood utensils, plastic or paper bags, cloth potholders and oven mitts are all dangerous around stoves.

Stove Malfunctions

Any appliance, including an electric stove, can malfunction and cause a fire. You have no way of knowing there is a problem if you leave your stove on all night while you are asleep or in another part of the house. An unattended burner can short out or have another problem that sparks a blaze, and you may not realize it until the fire is raging. Even newer models may have a defect that you do not know about, making them prone to start fires. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 200,000 electric ranges were recalled in 2009 because of burner problems.

Heating Alternatives

Lack of household heat is a common reason for leaving electric stoves or ovens on all night. Avoid the dangers of this practice by using alternate methods to stay warm. The state of Connecticut Department of Social Services advises wearing layered clothing and using blankets, as well as getting an appropriate alternative heat source -- like a portable heater -- if this is a problem.

Barb Nefer

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."