Appliance Fires Often Overlooked: Unattended Appliances May Be Hazardous
Sometimes, we’re very trusting, and we allow appliances to run as we sleep overnight, or when we go off to the grocery store, or to the movies. But based on statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), perhaps that may not be the best idea.
While many appliances, such as dishwashers and clothes dryers, are equipped with cut-off switches that interrupt power if they overheat, there have been numerous incidents where these have failed, and which the consumer might have to unplug the machine. Therefore, the agency suggests that appliances only be operated during the day, and while someone is supervising, or at least able to check to make sure it’s running properly.
Based on a review of safety and fire reports and court records, the CPSC estimates that 150,000 fires are caused every year by major appliances, resulting in 150 deaths, 3,670 injuries and around $550 million in property damage annually. Obviously, many such fires are a result of natural causes, like lightning storms or animals chewing wires. But most are due to human mistakes, such as leaving food cooking on a stove or misusing appliances. But a good many are caused by mechanical or functional problems with the appliances themselves.
Over the past six years, manufacturers have recalled more than 15 million appliance units, based on defects that could result in a fire. In all, the CPSC noted 1,942 incidents reported that led to the recalls. But the problem may be worse than that. Consumer Reports did an analysis of data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) from 2002 through 2009, and discovered that 15,700 fires were clearly linked to problems with a defective major appliance.
Ultimately, the CPSC recommends that consumers refrain from running appliances like clothes dryers and dishwashers overnight, or when you leave your home for any length of time. They also advise consumers to register new appliances with the manufacturer, so that they can be contacted in the case of a recall, and to check for recalls on a regular basis. That can be done at www.recalls.gov. In some cases, you can also sign up for email or text alerts.
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed, or you have suffered major property damage, and you suspect a fire that may have been caused by a recalled or defective major appliance, please contact the experienced Texas Appliance Fire Lawyer at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible.