‘Read the directions’: Local expert warns about potential dangers of pressure cookers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Instant Pot is expected to be a hot item flying off store shelves on Black Friday, but the popular gadget doesn't come without a warning.

Pressure cookers can be extremely useful but extremely dangerous if not used properly.

Jill Garcia Schmidt, executive chef at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, said pressure cookers provide word-for-word directions to keep you safe.

“The first and foremost number one priority you should have when getting ready to use an Instant Pot, or multi-cooker, is read the directions,” Schmidt said.

But according to some lawsuits and a recent post on social media, some people said they're dangerous and gave them second- and third-degree burns.

“Steam is past the boiling point in order to make steam, so you're talking anywhere from 180 degrees and up," Schmidt said. "And once it’s been going for an hour or so, it can be anywhere from 300 degrees or more, and that`s third-degree burn temperatures if you're not careful."

One social media post from October comes from a woman who said she did follow the directions.

She checked the pressure valve, saw there was no steam releasing, and unlocked her pressure cooker. She describes how she lifted up the lid and says the soup shot up like a rocket and exploded all over her.

She was covered in second-degree burns and is now warning others.

But Schmidt said this can be avoided. She said you have two options when the buzzer to the steaming valve goes off.

“Either release the steam manually or let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, which will be recommended per recipe,” Schmidt said. “It will allow the steam to release naturally. And when you release the steam valve, instead of it going up like a geyser, it will just kind of (be) a calmer situation. You don`t have to worry about that lid flying off.”

She also recommended keeping your face, hands, arms and any skin away from the steam valve.

“I never use my fingers to do that. I always grab a wooden spoon or some sort of utensil with a long handle so that I can actually stand back from the InstaPot and flick that sucker off,” Schmidt said.

She said to make sure you're knowledgeable before you even plug it in.

“If you don't know what you're doing before you get this item, then you need to educate yourself,” Schmidt said.

The Culinary Center of Kansas City will be holding a class on the InstaPot this Saturday. It's a good way to know if you should make the investment. Learn how to use it, make some recipes and then make a decision. More more details on the class, visit this site.

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