Small appliance safety – watch when in use, unplug when not
When it comes to small appliances, there’s a golden rule for ensuring they don’t start a fire in your home – unplug them when you’re not using them.
That’s especially true with any appliance that produces heat, including toasters, toaster ovens, microwave ovens, hair dryers and electric kettles.
As Mississauga Public Education Officer Michele Aplin told a recent Birnie HOME SAFE home safety seminar, you should also be vigilant about appliances when they are in use. Plug-in kettles with automatic turn-offs, for instance, may malfunction as they age. Instead of shutting down when the water boils, the kettle can boil dry and start a fire.
With thousands of residential fires sparked each year by small appliances, we’ve compiled some other tips to help keep your home safe.
Check for recalls. You can check up on the latest product recalls at Healthy Canadians. If you are moving into a home with existing appliances you should record their make and model and check for any recalls or review customers’ experiences with those products.
Inspect cords. Check for frayed power cords and never route electric cords (including extension cords) under carpeting, where they can overheat or be damaged by furniture.
Check home wiring. The electrical wiring in older homes cannot always handle the demands of modern appliances. Complete the Birnie HOME SAFE online hazards assessment and you may qualify for a no-fee, in home preliminary hazards assessment.
Care for appliance cords. Never wrap the cords around hair dryers or styling irons when storing them. That causes kinks, which shorten their lifespan. If your hair dryer smells funny, sounds funny, or you can hear the parts rattling when you pick it up, it’s time to toss it.
Test GFCI outlets. GFCI outlets are designed to save lives when a small appliance comes into contact with water. Press the test button. You should hear a click sound that trips the outlet. To ensure it has actually cut the power, try the same test using a nightlight. If the light goes out, you know you’re safe.