The 6 Most Dangerous Appliances in Your
At a time when homeland security ranks high on many Americans' safety
lists, it's ironic that a major cause of deaths in the United States occurs
right in our own homes: Deaths from unintentional injuries.
According to a series of new Home Safety Council-funded studies conducted
at the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center,
the most up-to-date statistics available, 18,048 people died due to unintentional
home injuries each year in the United States between 1992 and 1999. And
in 1998, 12 million people were injured at home to the extent they required
Many of these injuries stem frompoisonings,
falls and fires, but there is another source of danger in your home that
you may not have noticed: appliances. The following home appliances can
indeed pose a risk to your health if you don't take caution and use them
1. Space Heaters
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that space
heaters are the source of 21,800 home fires every year, and about 300
people die annually as a result of the related fires. Other concerns with
space heaters include natural gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns
and electric shock. To keep safe and still enjoy the added warmth that
a space heater can provide:
Keep heaters at least three feet from walls, bedding, clothing, pets
Turn the heater off when you leave the room or when you go to sleep
for the night
Don't leave a portable heater running unattended
Never dry socks or gloves on the heater
Don't use extension cords with electrical space heaters
For more information, CPSC offers a free booklet titled "e;What You
Should Know about Space Heaters,"e; available atwww.cpsc.gov.
2. Gas/Electric Stoves/Ovens
Never leave gas (or electric) burners unattended. Cooking is one
of the leading causes of home fires in the United States.
Both gas and electric stoves/ovens can cause burns and fires. Be sure
to keep stovetops clear of food crumbs that could catch fire as well as
other flammable objects like dish towels-and never leave a stove unattended!
3. Clothes Dryers
How often do you forget to clean the lint filter in your dryer? It's
an honest mistake, but one that could cause a fire. According to CPSC,
about 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries are associated with clothes
dryers each year, so always remember to clean the lint screen as often
as possible. Not only is this safer, but it will also keep your dryer
running more efficiently. Other safe dryer tips include:
Never leave the dryer running when you're not at home
Vent the dryer to the outdoors (not to a wall or attic)
Don't put synthetic fabrics, plastic, rubber or foam into a dryer
(they retain heat, which can cause a fire)
Dishwashers are ripe with hidden dangers that are especially dangerous
to kids: scalding water, sharp utensils and moving parts that tiny hands
may try to grab. If you have small children, make sure you don't leave
them unattended with a running dishwasher. And, as an adult, be careful
when opening a dishwasher-the steam that comes out can be extremely hot!
5. Electric Mixers
It goes without saying that you shouldn't put your hands anywhere near
a running mixer blade, but this also goes for spoons and other kitchen
utensils that you may be tempted to use (they can easily be broken and
the shards can hit you in the face). Another danger? Cleaning the blades
should be done with extreme caution-they're extremely sharp!
Hot irons can quickly cause second-degree burns-even while they're
cooling. Kids are especially at risk.
Young kids can quickly be burned by a hot iron-and one study found that
74 percent of such burns occurred among children who were supervised!
According to Michael Carius, M.D., chairman of the emergency department
at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut:
"e;It's usually the hands that get burned, because kids touch the
irons, and kids often don't let go when something is hot, so they end
up with second-degree burns, which blister. These warrant medical attention;
they are potentially a source of infection, which can lead to scarring
and loss of function."e;
Always take care to turn off the iron immediately when it's not in use,
and remember that it will still be hot, and therefore a potential danger,
while it's cooling.
For more home safety tips, don't miss another of SixWise.com's safe-living
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