Defective Stoves Can Cause Serious Injuries
WASHINGTON, DC -- May 25, 2007 -- Millions of freestanding gas and electric ranges are prone to tipping over, according to consumer groups that met last month to discuss the "killer stove" problem. From 1980 to 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) documented 84 injuries and 33 deaths from toppling stoves. Most victims were children or seniors. They were either crushed by the weight of unstable stoves or suffered severe burns as hot foods spilled when the stoves toppled to the floor.
Manufacturers began using lighter, cheaper steel in their stoves in the 1980s. However, this allowed the stoves to tip over when too much weight was applied to the oven door. The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the American Standards Institute (ANSI) developed voluntary safety standards in 1991 that require the installation of metal brackets to stabilize the stove. Because the safety standard is voluntary, this is not often done, according to the consumer organization, Public Citizen (Press Release, April 5, 2007). The group points to internal documents from Sears that show that the anti-tipping brackets were installed in only about 2-5% of cases. The group also charged that the CPSC knew about the tipping hazard since 1984, but failed to warn consumers or to require that the stoves be redesigned.
"Our concern is that the public is totally uninformed about these dangers. We think that everyone who has bought these [freestanding stoves] should be notified," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen (Washington Post, April 6, 2007). "This is a very serious source of potential harm in everyone's home."
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