Only about half of all appliance fires are caused by misuse — the rest are caused by the appliances themselves, according to an investigation by Consumer Reports.
“We identified a variety of causes for these fires, including faulty refrigerator compressors and defective control boards in dishwashers,” said Dan DiClerico, senior editor at Consumer Reports. “In some cases, cooking appliances were even turning on by themselves. Incidents may seem low, but the risk is very high.”
To protect yourself, try these eight tips from Consumer Reports:
Let the manufacturer know how to reach you by registering your purchase. You don’t have to answer all the marketing questions in the registration form, but can just give the manufacturer your name, contact information, and the appliance’s model number.
Find out about recalls by signing up for alerts. When you move into a home, check the existing appliances for recalls by visiting the manufacturer’s website, then see what others have to say about those products at the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Safer Products website.
Put a smoke detector with photoelectric and ionization sensors and a full-floor fire extinguisher (rated 2-a:10-B) on each level of your home, and a smaller fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
Inspect power cords. Check for frayed power cords and never route electric cords (including extension cords) under carpeting, where they can overheat or be damaged by furniture.
Match your home’s electrical system to your appliances. If you have an older home, upgrade the wiring so it can handle modern appliances.
Don’t leave food to cook itself. Unattended cooking on the range or microwave is a common source of fires. Unplug small cooking appliances like toaster ovens when not in use.
Clean range hoods because built-up grease is a fire hazard.
Clean your lint screens and dryer vent because lint buildup can cause fires. Use a smooth, rigid metal dryer duct rather than a flexible foil or plastic duct, which can sag and cause lint to build up inside.
Source: Consumer Reports