Keep this important advice in mind.

This past Friday, we decided to use the self-clean button on our oven even though we had already scrubbed it as clean as we could get it after our Christmas celebrations.

Within 5 minutes of turning on the self-clean feature, the smoke in our house was so thick that we didn't even see that flames were starting to 'lick' the outside of the oven.

Of course we immediately called 911 and the fire department and police were at our house right away (THANK YOU!!!!!) to suck out the smoke and disconnect the oven.

Had any more minutes been wasted, or had we put the oven on self-clean and gone to sleep for the night, or if we set it to self-clean and then left to go out for the day, that fire would have spread to the wall, cabinets, and then to the whole house. This story could have ended in disaster.

We had the service center where we got this practically-new oven come and inspect it. They told us it was fried. Shot. Done. Dead. They turned it off and said to get a new one.

The service guy told us to NEVER use the self-cleaning feature on an oven. He said he has seen too many house fires because the self-cleaning feature isn't as safe as people think. (The only appliance that causes more fires, he said, is the dryer if you don't keep the lint duct clean.)

And he said that even if you think your oven is grease-free, grease can drip UNDER the main part of the oven into crevices that you wouldn't be able to see unless you took a tool box and took the oven apart.

When the delivery truck arrived with our new oven days later and the service guys brought it in to install, these guys (completely separate from the first guy and having no prior knowledge of our circumstances) told us to NEVER use the self-cleaning feature on any oven!!! They say it too often ends in tragedy.

Just thought I'd pass along what several appliance experts said. Quite eye-opening advice.

From now on we'll be cleaning our oven with baking soda and vinegar!

PS Firefighters and EMTs remind you that the same advice applies for running your dryer: don't do it while you are sleeping or out of the house. You should always be monitoring it and be able to call 911 in an emergency.