Consumer Product Update: Kitchen Appliance Safety

When you look around your kitchen, you see all of the appliances that make preparing your favorite meals easier. From larger appliances like an oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher to smaller ones like a toaster, food processor, blender, and microwave. All of these have been invented to make life easier – but what happens when they don’t? What happens when these appliances are left on too long? Or have faulty wiring?  

Our team of engineers have years of experience investigating household appliances that were meant to perform one job but end up causing damaging fires or other destruction. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, using estimates from 2006 through 2008, found that major appliances caused more than 150,000 residential fires each year, resulting in 3,670 injuries, 150 deaths, and $547 million dollars in property damage (source). That should get your attention.

Before you start unplugging all your appliances and swear off home cooking, keep in mind that there are steps you can take to ensure the safety of your household:

    1. Inspect the wiring on your appliances and keep the appliance clean.
    2. Along the same lines, don’t overload an outlet.
    3. Never leave appliances operating when you leave your home.
    4. Unplug smaller appliances when not in use or when you’ll be away for a while
    5. Always register products with the manufacturer so you know when there is a recall!
    6. Make sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions and warnings for proper use.

Appliance manufactures are also taking notice and improving safety features with each new product. Some newer appliances even include an auto-shutoff feature. Retailers are following the trend and dedicating entire product categories and searches to highlight items with this feature. While there are no set industry standards for these features yet, the hazards that can be avoided speak for themselves. Forty percent of home fires can be related to cooking equipment, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found (source).

Beyond the preventive steps you can take to protect yourself, the auto-shutoff safety feature could provide you peace of mind. Many of our expert engineers have inspected consumer products to confirm their safety or find out what went wrong. Keep these dangers in mind the next time you make toast, leave the crockpot simmering, or reheat leftover lasagna.