Appliances were the main cause of 69,000 fires between 2002 and 2009, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
ShopSmart magazine’s newest issue analyzed the agency’s statistics and found that about half of them were caused by a mechanical, electrical or design flaw. I guess we can chalk the rest up to poor safety practices.
Here are the three most dangerous devices and how to avoid related fires:
- Ranges. A total of 16,824 stove fires were reported over the study period, almost twice as many as for any other appliance. The main causes were burners that turned themselves on and delayed ignition on a gas oven’s bake and broil functions. Watch digital displays for error messages, keep flammable items and children away from the cooking area, and don’t leave the range unattended when it’s on.
- Clothes dryers. Lint buildup and gas leaks involving gas-powered dryers were the main causes for 8,717 fires. Always remember to empty the lint trap and annually check vents for clogging. For gas dryers, install a carbon monoxide alarm nearby.
- Microwaves. Self-starting units and shattered glass doors contributed to 1,705 fires. Some microwaves displayed the codes “PAN” or “F2” when self-starting, ShopSmart says. Don’t leave anything in the microwave when it’s not in use, and know which circuit breaker controls the appliance’s power in case you lose control of it.
More than 3,400 Americans die each year in fires and about 17,500 are injured, the U.S. Fire Administration says. Make sure you have working smoke alarms, and check out the National Fire Protection Association website for more fire safety tips.