Self‑cleaning ovens can kill small pets

Dear Ann.

     I am writing this letter with the hope that someone will benefit from my sad experience and perhaps save their pets from a tragic fate.  

     I had a gas wall oven installed several months ago. After a casserole ran over. I decided to try the self‑cleaning feature. 1 soon noticed that my eyes began to burn a little bit, but I didn't think too much about it. Then. I heard my squawking in a way that let me know they were distressed. Their cage was in the family room, which was about 18 feet from the oven. When I checked the cage, one bird looked as if it were paralyzed. When I took it out, the bird died in my hands. Within the next two hours, the other three parakeets died, also. The one I had trained to sleep on the swing was the last to go.

     I was determined to find out what happened to my precious birds. The first thing I considered was carbon‑ monoxide poisoning, but the fireman who checked it out could not find any sign of it in our house, and neither could our local utility emergency service. The fireman then told me that self cleaning ovens, when they are first activated, may emit fumes that can be harmful to birds and small animals.

     This was the first time 1 had used the self‑cleaning feature on the oven. When I called the manufacturer for more information, I was told that when you use a self‑cleaning oven, you should open all the windows in the house and go outside. I was shocked, because there is nothing about this in the instruction brochure ‑ no mention of the need to take precautions, not a single word of warning.

     The company representative I spoke with said 1 will be reimbursed for the cost of replacing the birds, but how about the seven years of love and training? There is no way I can be compensated for that. I know some people will tell me to sue, but that won't bring my beloved birds back.

     So, Ann, my message to your readers is this: When you use your self‑ cleaning gas oven for the first time, open the windows and doors. and carry your birds and small animals to a room as far from the oven as possible or better yet. take them outside.

‑T.H. in Beloit. Wis.


     I want to thank you for an extremely informative letter. I'm sure all the small animal lovers will appreciate it. Meanwhile; I suggest that all readers who use the self cleaning feature on their ovens pay close attention to what you have ' written.


Important Notice...



     You've probably heard stories of old‑time miners who used canaries m the mores to detect dangerous gases because the birds would show the effects of gas much sooner than humans. Birds have the most efficient respiratory systems in the animal world; however, due to this efficiency and their small size, they are more sensitive to tonic elements in the air.

    Examples of potentially harmful substances include: aerosol sprays, cigarette smoke, fumes from self‑cleaning ovens, and fumes from everyday cooking. IT is the potentially hazardous fumes from everyday cooking which the balance of this letter addresses.

     Fumes from everyday cooking can be harmful to pet birds, particularly smoke from burning foods. Overheated cooking oil, fats, margarine, and butter may create dangerous fumes. Scorched plastic handles and plastic utensils can contaminate the air.

     Nonstick cookware coated with polytetrafluoroethylene ("PTFE") coatings ca.^. also emit fumes harmful to birds if the cookware is accidentally overheated to temperatures well above the normal temperatures needed for frying and baking. In addition, PTFE coated drip pans (AKA "burner bibs") should be avoided because in normal use the reach extremely high temperatures and can emit fumes that are hazardous to birds. ( Whitford has never knowingly supplied any PTFE coatings for application to drip pans.)

     As a manufacturer of consumerware coatings which contain PTFE, Whitford believes our industry has an obligation to disseminate the above information to all who purchase our products. It is our hope that you share this belief and will, in turn, transmit this information to your customers, especially individual concerns.