Most homes have a variety of appliances, designed to make life easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable. From major appliances like washing machines, dryers and refrigerators to smaller ones like toasters and coffee makers, your home probably has many of these tools ready to use at a moment’s notice. While appliances have an important place in the home, they also demand careful use to avoid injury.
Because most appliances use electricity, the main risk posed by using them involves fire. The U.S. Fire Administration has important fire safety information on its website to help consumers avoid appliance fires. This is especially important to teach children, who use appliances, too – often without adult supervision.
With the ultimate home appliance safety guide firmly in mind, you can keep your family and home safe from unexpected and unpleasant situations.
While appliances have an important place in the home, they also demand careful use to avoid injury.
Appliances that have undergone rigorous safety testing will have a safety certification label somewhere on the product. This safety testing certification includes appliances, household devices and electrical tools. Look for an “Underwriters Laboratories (UL)” certification that tells you that the appliance or device has certification from the Underwriters Laboratories for electrical safety.
The U.S. Fire Administration website estimates that 9,600 residential appliance fires start every year, with 25 deaths and 525 injuries resulting. These fires result in about $211 million of property loss nationwide. Take steps to protect your family and home from electrical fires by disconnecting any appliances that create sparks or electrical sputters. If you can’t fix an appliance in this condition, then dispose of it. Never use electrical appliances in areas where water stands in puddles on the floor.
Examine the plugs of appliances regularly. If you find frayed cords or evidence of melting or burning near the prongs, discontinue use immediately.
If you must use an extension cord with an appliance, make sure it’s rated for the size of the appliance and don’t try to plug too many devices into one cord. Never use frayed or damaged extension cords, either.
Always read the instruction manual thoroughly before using an appliance. Learn the recommended use of the appliance and don’t deviate from these recommendations. Using an appliance in ways other than its original design and intention could lead to injury of users and damage to the appliance.
Supervise children as they use appliances to make sure they use them safely. Many appliances require monitoring while they operate to prevent accidents. For example, although a clothes dryer will operate almost effortlessly without any help from you, you should not allow the dryer to operate if you are not home or not awake. The fire risk from a dryer with clogged vent pipes is high enough that manufacturers recommend that you use them only when you are monitoring the drying process. Follow manufacturer recommendations about appliance use, monitoring the use if the manufacturer recommends it.
If you smell strange smells during appliance operation, discontinue use until you determine the source of the odor. If you hear unusual noises during appliance operation, shut it off also. The noise could indicate a malfunction that may cause injury or product damage.
With a little common sense and attention to detail, your appliances should serve you safely and effectively for many years.