In the marketplace, gas stoves have been competing with electric stoves for decades, and to this day each side has enthusiastic adherents who stand eternally ready to argue that their preferred style is the better of the two. To be sure, there are valid arguments to be made for both types. For example, gas stoves have been traditionally associated with relatively even cooking and greater ease in adjusting heat levels. Meanwhile, electric stove aficionados tend to be attracted to their cheaper purchase price and reduced cleanup requirements. But one issue that invariably arises in these discussions is the issue of safety. Electric stoves are commonly believed to pose fewer safety hazards than gas stoves, but how much truth is there to this? Below we’ll discuss some of the safety concerns related to gas and electric stoves.
Pilot light problems
Gas stoves traditionally employ pilot lights, and these occasionally catch fire—this is one hazard that the electric stove user need not worry about. However, it should be noted that newer gas stoves often come outfitted with electronic ignition devices that forego the need for a pilot light. If one does have a traditional pilot light, it’s a good idea to extinguish it whenever possible, such as before a vacation or extended absence from home; this will also save you some money on your energy bill.
One advantage indisputably enjoyed by gas stoves is their ability to function without the use of electricity—gas stoves, unlike their electric cousins, can keep running even after the power has gone out. This can be especially useful if one is in an area prone to extended power outages caused by bad weather. In the event of natural disaster or other catastrophe, being denied the capacity to cook food for an indefinite period of time can constitute a safety issue.
One problem exclusive to gas stoves is the possible emission of carbon monoxide (CO), a potentially fatal gas produced by burning fuel. Compounding the danger of carbon monoxide is its colorless and odorless character, making it difficult to detect; high concentrations of CO can kill with alarming speed. But though carbon monoxide poisoning looms large in the minds of many, its prevalence may be exaggerated. Fewer than 200 people die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning, although thousands more become hospitalized due to CO-related illness. Furthermore, the risk of CO poisoning can be sharply reduced by installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
The open flame of a gas stove can pose a burn risk, especially to inquisitive small children. But it’s worth keeping in mind that smoothtop electric stoves can be similarly hazardous, as the heated cooking surface can deceptively seem safe.
Gas stoves can spew hazardous pollutants, a problem that can be aggravated if the appliance is located in an inadequately ventilated area. In addition, leaky gas lines can cause similar complications. The onus is on gas stove owners to monitor these issues and provide proper ventilation at all times.