Despite the fact that slow cookers have been certified trustworthy kitchen accessories since the 1970s, people across the nation have been taking to Twitter threatening to throw theirs in the trash. And, why? If you don't want spoilers for the Jan. 23 episode of This Is Us, I recommend you stop reading now — because the reason is real spoiler-y. In the most recent episode of the series, viewers were finally made privy to how Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) ultimately died: A fault slow cooker switch sparked in the Pearson family's kitchen, causing a dish towel to catch fire. The fire spread through the house, and well... I don't need to go on, do I? In addition to being absolutely devastating, Jack's untimely end in the show has apparently caused some viewers to question their beloved kitchen product, and ask: are slow cookers safe?
I know. If you sent a slo-mo glare at your slow cooker like it personally took your favorite TV character's life, I feel you. The nation feels you. It's upsetting! But, might I offer a reality check that will save you from making a senseless mistake? Your slow cooker is not a murderer, and no, it's likely not unsafe. Unless it has frayed wires or is exhibiting signs of faulty behavior, there's no reason to toss it out — just be as cautious with it as you would with any other electronic kitchen appliance!
Even the leading slow cooker company, Crock-Pot, has taken to the internet to assure fans that the slow cooker is indeed safe to use. On Facebook, a representative for the company responded to This Is Us fans' concerns about the product (as well as their devastation over Jack's death) with kind words of comfort:
Since the 1970s we have been providing families with quality and safe products, ask your parents if you don’t believe us. DM us with any questions, and we’d be happy to tell you more about our safety standards!
But if you're still worried, here are a few slow cooker safety guides to go by, just to be extra sure you're being extra careful:
Make Sure It's On A Flat And Stable Surface
Make sure that you only use your slow cooker on a flat and sturdy surface. There should be nothing underneath it, it should not be near water, and should have open space around it. Aka, don't place your cooker by curtains, other foods, papers, or other appliances. Give your cooker some room to shine.
Make Sure Older Slow Cookers Are Working Up To Par
If you have an older slow cooker, you'll have to run some tests on it to make sure it's not faulty. Here's one test The Kitchn suggests: fill the slow cooker 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full with room temperature tap water, set it to the low setting, and then check with a food thermometer after eight hours. The thermometer should read at least 185°F. If your cooker fails that test, don't use it and get rid of it.
Keep The Lid On
The lid is meant to be kept on — you're only supposed to take the lid off when you're stirring or adjusting the ingredients. So, use it as it was intended. Make sure that the lid on completely and securely before leaving the room, as this will help control and contain the heat.
Don't Leave It On Longer Than Necessary
A lot of newer model slow cookers have auto shut-off features, so that eliminates the need to ensure you're not running the device longer than it should be. But, if you don't have that feature on your slow cooker, just make sure that you're not running it longer than eight to 10 hours. They operate on a low wattage, so this amount of time is safe.