Pharos-Tribune

Business

September 12, 2013

Consumer Reports: 6 surprising hazards at home

(Continued)

Play it safe: Clean the lint filter before each load. Dryer vents should be checked annually for clogs. Turn the dryer off before going to bed or leaving home. If you have a gas dryer, install a carbon monoxide alarm near the laundry room to warn you of leaks, which are poisonous.

3. Microwave ovens. Number of fires: 1,705

Burning issues: Units that turn on by themselves and glass doors that shatter unexpectedly.

Play it safe: Look for unusual error messages on digital display panels. If your oven goes on by itself, try to turn it off by hitting the off/cancel button. Know where it's plugged in and which circuit breaker controls it in case it won't turn off. Don't store food or other items in the microwave.

4. Refrigerators. Number of fires: 1,514

Burning issues: Electronic components that short-circuit, control boards that overheat and lightbulbs that stay on when the door is shut.

Play it safe: Be aware of unusual error messages on the digital display (if your fridge has one). ShopSmart recommends checking that the lightbulb turns off by pressing the switch, which is usually inside the fridge where the door closes.

5. Dishwashers. Number of fires: 1,015

Burning issues: Circuit boards and heating elements that can catch fire, and liquid rinse aids that can leak into circuitry, creating a fire hazard.

Play it safe: Don't run the dishwasher when you're asleep or not home. Call for a repair if the rinse-aid dispenser needs constant refilling. Know which circuit breaker cuts power to the unit in case it starts smoking or goes up in flames.

6. Toasters and toaster ovens. Number of fires: 902

Burning issues: Units that turn on by themselves. Another potential hazard is when a mechanism jams while toasting.

Play it safe: Remember to unplug toasters when you're not using them. Inspect them for frayed power cords. And don't toast anything larger than what can easily fit in the slot.

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