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Holiday Disasters: Homeowners' Tales of Their Worst Yuletide Nightmares

A Modest Christmas Dinner

"A few years ago, we hosted Christmas dinner at our new home, which was a total fixer-upper. But we were proud of our new house and wanted to have everyone over.

Not many things in the house worked, but the oven did -- or so we thought. We had lived there for a few months and didn't have any problems with it, until it was time to cook Christmas dinner. Keep in mind, we were having 10 people over for dinner.

Proud of myself for already prepping all the food, all I had to do was set the table and pop it all in the oven. Easy peasy! I turned the oven on, and nada! It didn't work!

Needless to say, I cooked the entire meal in a toaster oven. Some things were lukewarm by the time everything was ready, but I think the meal turned out well despite being oven-less."

Danielle Elderkin, Bradford Woods, Pa.

Don't Let This Happen to You

Malfunctioning appliances aside, the kitchen is one of the most dangerous places in your home during the holidays. With all the cooking and commotion going on, anything can go wrong with overused ovens, microwaves and other appliances -- not to mention fires. More than 40 percent of all house fires begin in the kitchen, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

If you do find yourself heating up smaller appliances like Krause did with her toaster oven, always make sure to unplug them after use, suggested the experts at insurance company Travelers. Other kitchen tips from Travelers include:

Keep all kitchen towels, oven mitts, pot holders and other combustibles away from heat sources before turning on your oven, toaster or microwave.

Monitor cooking food closely, as many fires have started from overcooking food in the oven.

Grilling? Yes, people do still grill at Christmas time. But never use charcoal grills in enclosed spaces like porches or garages, where it might be warmer than it is outside. That's a fire waiting to happen.
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