Fire Hazard Issues from Appliances in the Home

Most people don’t spend time thinking about their appliances. Until something goes wrong and an injury occurs, we mostly just go about our day, using the tools that make life easier. Because most of these objects require electricity or gas, the risk for a fire is greater than it is with other types of products. Defective appliances are particularly susceptible to posing these fire dangers.

When a household appliance is defective and causes a burn injury, or sparks a fire that leads to toxic exposure or an explosion, the injury victim can seek recovery of damages with a product liability lawsuit or homeowner’s claim.

Which appliances pose the greatest fire risk?

  • Stoves and ovens. This one is obvious, of course, but it bears repeating: hot surfaces lead to burn injuries, and proper design and installation are essential to safety.
  • Toasters and toaster ovens. When your bread gets stuck and you use a knife or fork to pull it out (to avoid burning your fingers), you may inadvertently damage the heating element. This can not only cause an unexpected shock, but it could lead to an electrical fire.
  • Space heaters. Many people underestimate the danger that space heaters can pose. When they are placed near flammable objects such as furniture, clothing, or bedding, the fire hazard involved increases. Other ways these devices can cause fires includes overloading an electrical circuit, or positioning the device in an elevated position where it could fall and cause a fire.
  • Microwave ovens. If foil or metal container is placed in the microwave, you will definitely see sparks. This is why it is imperative that parents keep their small children away from the microwave. It might seem like a safer alternative to an oven, but there are risks, because it isn’t always easy to see the metal components of something you place in there.

A quick note about the dangers of smoke in house fires

When you think of the risks posed by fire, you think of burn injuries. But there are other serious risks, too, after the fire has been put out. If you are close to the fire, you can easily inhale smoke, ash, and burning embers. The more serious concern, however, is the toxicity of smoke:

“During the past 50 years, synthetic polymers have been introduced in buildings in very large quantities. Many contain nitrogen or halogens, resulting in the release of hydrogen cyanide and inorganic acids in fire smoke as additional toxic threats. An analysis of toxicological findings in fire and nonfire [sic] deaths and the results of animal exposures to smoke from a variety of burning materials indicate that carbon monoxide is still likely to be the major toxicant in modern fires. However, the additional toxic threats mentioned above can sometimes be the principal cause of death or their addition can result in much lower than expected carboxyhemoglobin levels in fire victims. This analysis also revealed that hydrogen cyanide is likely to be present in appreciable amounts in the blood of fire victims in modern fires.”

In short, the most important “appliances” in your home are your smoke alarm and your carbon monoxide alarm. If either of these fail you, and you or your loved are injured, please call us. We have special experience with these types of claims. Combined with our skills as personal injury attorneys, as well as our knowledge of insurance claims, we can help.

If you have suffered a fire injury due to a defective appliance fire or smoke inhalation, our Huntsville product liability attorneys at Martin & Helms can help you secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other losses. Give us a call today at 256.539.1990 or fill out our contact form to set up a free evaluation of your case.