Defective home appliances are a real danger to life and property. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent federal regulatory agency, major appliances caused some 150,000 residential fires each year from 2006 through 2008, which resulted in 150 deaths and $547 million in property damage.
Consumer Reports did its own study into home appliance fires. Reviewing federal fire data from 2002 through 2009 in single and multi-family homes, it found that half of reported appliance fires were caused by human mistakes or natural causes, such as storms and animals. But that means the remaining half were caused by defective products.
Home Appliance Fire Statistics
Here is a breakdown of some the Consumer Reports findings:
- In the past five years, more than 15 million appliance units have been recalled for defects that could cause a fire. Almost half of those were dishwashers.
- About four out of every five of these recalls were of products made outside of the United States. That majority came from China.
- In the period between 2002 and 2009, appliances were the primary cause in more than 69,000 home fires. This number is smaller than the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s because the Commission’s total includes hotels, dorms and other structures.
- Of those 69,000 appliance-caused fires in single and multi-family dwellings, a little over 35,000 were due to defective products, caused by manufacturing, design or mechanical problems, or a combination thereof.
- Between 2002 and 2009, fires attributed to clothes dryers resulted in $84 million in property damage alone.
Product Liability Lawsuits
Manufacturers and sellers of any and all products – be they automobiles, medical devices or pharmaceuticals – have the responsibility to make sure their products are safe. If their product does cause fatalities, catastrophic injury and/or property damage, then manufacturers and sellers can be held legally liable to compensate for those damages.
To help protect yourself from defective products, Consumer Reports suggests you register new appliances so you can be notified if it is recalled. You can also check for product recalls at saferproducts.gov.