Friday, February 20, 2009

Pressure Cooker Accident Implicated in Burned 14-year Old in Florida

With so much fear surrounding pressure cookers and pressure cooking, why would I be telling you about something so tragic?

The story that I read in The Miami Herald said that the girl was cooking with an adult when the accident happened. No further details except that the girl was seriously burned about the face, hands and neck. That is just awful.

My best guess is that she and the adult with her were using an old-fashioned pressure cooker. And that the pressure got too high or they weren't patient enough to wait for the pressure to come down before removing the pressure valve -- and BOOM, a horrible explosion of burning hot food spewed from the cooker.

I am no detective (possibly perhaps of the Columbo type) but I am surmising that impatience was the cause of the incident because the girl was obviously close to the cooker to get burned in that manner.

My advice -- unless you feel completely comfortable using an old-fashioned pressure cooker that you have used faithfully for years, ONLY use a modern spring-valve type cooker. I have used them successfully with my students for about 8 years at Santa Rosa Junior College and we have not had one incident of explosions or burns (the latter of which can easily happen with the 250 degree F. steam). It's not due to my luck because I have had other things happen in class which have involved paramedics and nurses, but I won't divulge here.

There are many of us online, and out in the world, who agree that tragedies like this can be prevented. We successfully use our pressure cookers almost daily (I'll speak for myself here.) The modern pressure cooker is built with safety in mind. Once you've achieved pressure you cannot open the pot and this prevents any kind of explosions and accidents. So, do yourself a favor and cook the modern pressure cooking way.

I'd love to hear your comments and questions.


Aghanashini said...

That's sad about the teenager - one of my favorite childhood memories was canning with my mom over one of the old type pressure cookers. I also remember staying far away when it would start to dance and spit. I love my new type pressure cooker and, despite being generally uncoordinated, have successfully used it almost every day since buying it. They're great!

Virginia said...

It really helps if you have a great teacher! Thanks, Jill!

Ellen Etc said...

I know you've suggested pressure cooker brands before, but could you refresh us?

The Veggie Queen said...


Any modern type pressure cooker will work fine. The ones that I am familiar with are Fagor (which I use the most), Magefesa, WMF, Fissler, Kuhn Rikon. Biggest difference between them is price. You can look at my site to see what I offer.


Rene said...

That's too bad. I use an old-fashioned pressure cooker with caveats--watch the temperature/pressure carefully and NEVER overfill. It's not a tool to "set and forget" and need to be watched.

Ellen Etc said...

I ended up getting a Magefesa and and very pleased with it. The manual is terrible, though, so I bought a couple of pressure cooker cookbooks to go along with it.