October 1, 2014

Tipping Stoves – A Real Danger to Children

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched an investigation into the recent death of a toddler crushed by a stove. This horrific accident is not as unusual as we would like to believe.

Since 1980, there have been 34 deaths. In just the past five years, there have been more than 1,600 appliance-related injuries having to do with instability and tip-over.

My News3 put four year old Clementina Gonzales to the test. She was easily able to move the stove off a wall, and she only weighs 40 pounds.

The stove we tested was not mounted to the wall, which was likely the case in the incident over the weekend when a stove toppled over onto a 17 month old boy, killing him. Police say it happened when the boy’s father stepped away to pack a travel bag. He was only gone a few minutes.

Appliance specialist Richard Rodriguez showed us how an L-shaped bracket can prevent a stove from tipping over.

“On every gas or electric range, this is called the anti-dip tip device. Like it says, it keeps the range from tipping over. They’ll put this in backwards toward the wall and then they’ll slide the range in, onto it, and screw it down.”

Since 1991, industry standards have required that stoves come with the brackets. Instructions on how to install them are on the first page of most owner’s manuals. So far, there are no federal regulations requiring the brackets.

Clementina’s father says he did not get a bracket with his stove.

“…we just purchased it not too long ago and pretty much just hooked up the gas line to it and scooted it into place and that’s it,” said Joe Gonzalez.

Big hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s do not sell these brackets separately, but we did locate some with a Google search. You might be able to find one at an appliance part store. You may also contact your stove manufacturer and order one directly.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission just published an evaluation on stove stability. It found static weight between 40 and 50 pounds at the edge of an oven door was enough to tip all ranges tested forward.

The bottom line is that a slide-in range is a danger without being bracketed into the wall. I would suggest that those brackets be bolted into the wall stud.

A quick check behind the range will tell you if you have the brackets already installed:

A simple, inexpensive, lifesaving addition to installation.

Basic Appliance Care and Safety

If you are lucky, you rarely need to pay much attention to the appliances that run, some of them 24 hours a day, in your home. But to keep everything trouble free, it’s good to follow some basic guidelines for care and safety when using or installing appliances in your home. Handymanclub.com offers some simples steps for use with your washer, dryer, refrigerator, ranges, cooktops, even your water heater.

Ventilation and combustion (dryers, water heaters, ranges and cooktops)
• Clean the clothes dryer’s lint filter before or after each load. Check behind the dryer for trapped lint. Clear lint from the exterior vent often. Lint buildup results in inefficiency and excessive wear and can even pose a fire hazard. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 15,500 fires each year are associated with clothes dryers.
• Use only metal ducting for gas dryers because they run hotter than electric machines. Rigid rather than accordion-pleated ducting is best for airflow.
• Never vent clothes dryers or water heaters into the house to supplement heating.

Plumbing (washers, refrigerators and water heaters)
• To prevent leaky or bursting waterlines, check washing machine hoses for signs of wear. Consider replacing rubber hoses with newer braided stainless steel hoses.
• Check the screens at either end of the water hoses and remove sediment that may have collected there. This is especially important after road construction or water-main work has been done in your area.
• Periodically check that the washing machine is soundly footed and level so the hoses and the drain hose do not come loose.
• If a dishwasher’s tub doesn’t empty after operation, detach the drain line from the household drain and clean any debris from the line.

Gas (dryers, ranges and water heaters)
• Never use an oven as a room heater — combustion pollutants resulting from fuel-burning appliances can cause illness or death. Have gas appliances serviced periodically to ensure they burn with the proper mix of air and fuel.
• Be sure all vented appliances are checked for backdrafting. (This is one reason that it’s important for a city building official to inspect newly installed vented appliances.)

Electric
• Diehard DIYers may bristle at this warning from the CPSC — nonetheless, it’s a lifesaver. Never attempt to repair a microwave oven — because they use high-voltage power, they can pose a risk of electrical shock even after they are disconnected from the power source.
• Use dedicated circuits for large appliances such as washers and dryers.
• Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces.