Electrical Injuries from Kitchen and Household Appliances
Americans have a huge variety of electrically-powered devices in their homes, from kitchen appliances like microwave ovens, electric ranges, dishwashers, and refrigerators, to entertainment devices like televisions, stereo equipment, and computers, to heavier-use electrical systems like air conditioners, washers, and dryers, and hot water heaters. Any of these many devices can pose a potential danger of electrical injury due to basic design defects, defects in the manufacturing and assembly of components, or inadequate or faulty warnings and directions about how the appliances should safely be used. When electrical injuries from kitchen and household appliances such as flash burns, shocks, or electrocutions occur, as a result, an experienced personal injury attorney can help guide those who have sustained these injuries to proper compensation from negligent designers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, installers, and technicians -- whoever may be responsible for the ultimately defective product.What Types of Electrical Injuries Result from Defective Kitchen and Household Appliances?
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), nearly half of all home fires begin in the kitchen, making it the most dangerous room in our homes. While many of these fires result from open cooking flames, many also result from faulty or overloaded wiring and defects in the many electrical appliances most kitchens contain. Electrical injuries from kitchen and household appliances generally come in two categories:
Most kitchen and household appliances in the U.S. run on an ordinary household current of 110/120 volts, alternating current on circuits having breakers or fuses rated for 15 to 30 amps. This is considered relatively low voltage, and shocks from exposure will not generally cause severe injury or death unless specific environmental factors are present (such as immersion in water). But these ratings are only typical standards -- actual houses in the U.S. may be wired for considerably different ratings and may or may not have protective devices like GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets that protect against electrocution. (GFCI outlets only started becoming required by some local building codes in the 1970s -- obviously, many American homes are older than that and have never been retro-fitted with GFCI in spaces where exposure to water and electricity is likely, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and pool/outdoor areas.)
Since electrocutions in the home have become much rarer thanks to safety devices like GFCI outlets, the more common type of electrical injury in the home is from burns. These are generally broken down into three types:
- Electrical burns from touching exposed wiring or defective devices that have an electrical current running through them;
- Arc burns or "arc blasts" when a higher-voltage discharge cause an electrical "arc" or spark in or near the flesh, or a "blast" of molten/vaporized material when a discharge rapidly heats metal that is carrying the charge;
- Thermal burns from burning clothing or other material in contact with the body that has been lit on fire by an electrical discharge. Electrical burns and arc burns generally are much more likely to occur with exposure to high-voltage electricity. Since kitchen and household appliances in the U.S. generally carry relatively low-voltage current, burns from defective household electrical products are usually from thermal burns.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is a U.S. government agency that issues and monitors recalls for defective products. A review of kitchen, household, and personal appliances that have been recalled in recent years due to danger of electrical injury include:
- Kalorik electric grills in which defective electroplating of the control knobs resulted in a danger of electric shock. More than 3,500 units were recalled for repairs by the manufacturer.
- Silvercrest bread makers in which the unit's top cover can become electrified and shock users. Approximately 1,800 units were recalled for a refund.
- LUS brand hair dryers that were manufactured with no immersion protection device and pose a danger of electrocution. More than 3,000 dryers (including some sold in Canada) were recalled for a refund.
- Belkin portable wireless charger stands where a manufacturing defect can cause the power converter to overheat, with a danger of shock or fire. Almost 2,300 chargers were recalled for a refund.
One of the best reasons for filling out and returning those product warranty cards that come with newly-purchased kitchen and household appliances is to be put on the manufacturer's contact list of consumers who have purchased their products and are therefore much more likely to receive timely recall notifications for defective products.Product Liability for Defective Kitchen and Household Appliances
Product liability cases for electrical injuries caused by defective kitchen and household appliances are significantly more complex than and different from typical personal negligence cases such as traffic accident claims. Typical traffic accident negligence cases usually only involve proving liability for one driver whose negligence is often plain for all to see from the circumstances of the collision. Proving product defect cases, on the other hand, typically involves significant engineering and scientific proof -- what was the specific defect that caused the injury, when did the defect become present in the product (at design, during manufacturing, during later distribution, assembly, or installation) -- as well as proof of "who knew what and when" that might point at failures to properly recall, repair, or replace the defective product or to warn and instruct users on proper usage of the product or the presence of specific dangers.
This type of complicated forensic proof and legal proof is where an experienced personal injury attorney can be of value to those who have sustained electrical injuries from kitchen and household appliances.
View this video in American sign language and English for commonsense safety tips for using electrical appliances in the home:Sacramento Electrical Injury Lawyer
Hi, my name is Ed Smith, and I am a Sacramento Electrical Injury Lawyer. Defective products such as kitchen and household appliances are among the most common causes of electrical injuries in the United States. We are constantly surrounded by devices carrying an electrical current that pose a risk to us if they have been improperly designed, manufactured, assembled, or installed. If you or a member of your family have been injured in an accident involving a defective kitchen or household appliance, please call us for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400, or reach out to us by using our online contact form.
Photo by Addi Gibson from Pixabay
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