Appliances serve many purposes within the modern home, and help homeowners complete a wide range of tiresome tasks. Some appliances, however, can become hazards if they are improperly installed or maintained. The most common appliance dangers are fire, electric shock and gas emissions. Learning about how appliances work and what dangers they may pose can help keep you safe while still enjoying their benefits.
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Fire is a real danger in any household. If not caught quickly, it can destroy a house and even endanger nearby houses. Improperly wired appliances can cause shorts and sparks that lead to fire. Although these problems usually cause a fuse to blow or breaker to trip, in some situations this will not prevent a fire. Space heaters present another fire threat. Electric or gas space heaters can ignite any flammable items left too close to them. Keep space heaters at least three 3 feet away from boxes, clothing, drapes, paper, or anything else that could burn, and never leave space heaters running in an unoccupied room.
Any appliance that uses electricity can deliver a dangerous or even fatal shock. This is most likely with appliances that feature exposed heating coils such as space heaters and toasters. Any electric appliance with a worn or broken cord also can deliver a shock. Check cords periodically for damage, and never let pets or children chew on or play with them. Never stick a knife or implement into a toaster without unplugging it first. Particularly if there are children in the household, unplug appliances that are not used for long periods, and put caps onto unused outlets.
Appliances that emit gas can release dangerous carbon monoxide if they are not properly vented. Appliances that may present this danger include furnaces, gas space heaters, clothes dryers, gas fireplaces and generators. Vent any of these appliances properly, and periodically inspect their vents to ensure they are unobstructed and working properly. Without effective venting, carbon monoxide can build up inside a home and potentially kill those inside. Your home should also be equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm that will alert you to dangerous levels of this potentially lethal gas.