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Only you can prevent toaster fires -- here's how

It may be time to give that brave little toaster a funeral.

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If it can't make waffles, it may be time to get a new toaster.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

There's no breakfast companion like your toaster. Who else can pop out waffles while you put on your shoes, right? But if you believe all of the stories left with Consumer Affairs, toasters can be huge fires hazards. You can prevent some of the danger by knowing when to get rid of your old toaster and what to do if a blaze does pop up.

When to say goodbye

Here are some signs that you should part ways with your toasty friend:

  • The cord is frayed or coming apart from the plug or toaster.
  • It shoots sparks...even tiny ones.
  • You get a little jolt of electricity when you touch it. (And no, I'm not talking about the excitement you get when you're about to grab a toaster waffle.)
  • It burns your toast, even when it isn't on it's highest toasting setting.

What to do if your toaster catches fire

Sometimes, toasters can catch fire with no warning, so it's best if you don't leave it alone while it's in use. Also, it's a good rule to unplug your toaster when you're not using it, even it it's brand new, just to be on the safe side.

If your toaster ever does flare up, unplug it right away. If don't have a fire extinguisher handy, there are a few things you can do.

  • If you can grab it without hurting yourself, toss it into your oven and close the door. The flame's oxygen will be cut off and the blaze will die down.
  • Another option is to douse the flames with baking soda. Don't sprinkle! Tear open the box and dump the whole thing on the flames.
  • If the food in the toaster isn't greasy, you can also throw water on the fire to kill it. Don't do this if there is something greasy in the toaster because water can make the fire worse.

Never use a toaster again after it has caught fire. There could be all kinds of electrical damage in there that you can't see. This damage may lead to electrocutions or another fire.