CPSC Launches Recall Round-Up to Reduce Fire Deaths and Injuries

April 17, 2001
Release Number: 01-125

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is launching a "recall round-up" to rid homes of fire hazards. CPSC is organizing a nationwide campaign to discard hazardous consumer products such as old disposable lighters, frayed extension cords, and recalled products that could lead to a deadly fire (poster about fires and recalled products). The products on the "recall round-up" list have been recalled in the past or were made safer when new safety standards were put into place.

Each year, more than 3,000 people die and 16,000 are injured because of fires that start in homes. These fires result in property losses of about $4 billion. Children are particularly vulnerable. Each year, about 800 children under the age of 15 die of fire-related causes and about 500 of these deaths are to children under the age of 5 years. In fact, children under age 5 have a fire death rate more than twice the national average.

CPSC standards and compliance activities have contributed to a decline in fires and fire deaths over the past several years. For example, CPSC's standard for child-resistant lighters has helped reduce fire deaths from children playing with lighters by 43 percent since 1994. Other CPSC standards include general wearing apparel, children's sleepwear, mattresses, and carpets and rugs. CPSC staff is working on standard proposals for upholstered furniture and for heating and cooking equipment. Recalls have been announced for battery-operated children's vehicles, non-child-resistant lighters, halogen lamps, dishwashers, extension cords, toasters, and other products.

To help conduct this year's recall round-up, CPSC has enlisted the help of fire marshals, fire departments, state and local officials, and national and state health and safety organizations, including the Congressional Fire Caucus. Nearly 2,000 fire stations (here is a list in pdf format)
across the country will serve as collection sites for hazardous products such as old disposable cigarette lighters and frayed extension cords. Governors, state health officials, and grassroots organizations will help publicize the safety campaign and distribute information about the hazardous products.

"CPSC's safety standards and recalls have helped save hundreds of lives but many pre-standard and recalled products remain in people's homes," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "That's why people should do some spring cleaning and check their homes and 'knick-knack' drawers for old disposable lighters, frayed extension cords, and other products that could be hazardous." Chairman Brown pointed out, "We can get dangerous products off store shelves, but the real challenge is to get them out of families' homes."

Today, CPSC is launching the recall round-up with a news conference and release of a
"Recall List" of products. Speaking at today's news conference, U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md), co-chair of the Congressional Fire Caucus, said, "The government does its part by setting safety standards and negotiating recalls. Now, through CPSC's recall round-up, people can do their part to get hazardous products out of their homes."

movie iconConsumers can also view video clips about some of the products covered by this year's Recall Round-up. They are in
"streaming video" or mpeg format. Look for "video clip" after the descriptions below.

Some of the hazardous products that might be in consumers' homes are:

- Cigarette Lighters without child-resistant mechanisms. CPSC's standard requires that both disposable cigarette lighters and novelty lighters made since 1994 must be hard for children under 5 years of age to operate. Novelty lighters are often in the shape of toys or other objects that appeal to children. According to CPSC data, this safety standard has helped reduce fire deaths from children playing with lighters by 43 percent since 1994. CPSC estimates that the standard for child-resistant lighters and novelty lighters should help save more than 100 lives each year. Never allow children access to cigarette or novelty lighters. Discard old non-child-resistant lighters. CPSC and Gladstrong Investments USA are announcing the recall of about 13 million disposable lighters because their child-resistant mechanisms are frequently ineffective. A 4-year-old girl died after starting a fire with a Gladstrong Investments lighter and then hiding in a closet (video clip, streaming format) (transcript).

- Extension cords with frayed or cut insulation, undersize wire, loose connections, or improper grounding can cause fires. Each year, there are approximately 5,700 fires and 40 deaths related to faulty extension cords, power strips, and surge protectors. Make sure your extension cords have a certification label from an independent testing lab such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Intertek Testing Services) (video clip, streaming format).

- Black & Decker Spacemaker Optima Toasters (Model T1000, sold from 1994 through 1996). These 234,000 toasters were recalled because food can catch on fire, and when the toaster door automatically opens and the food rack extends beyond the door, flames from the food can escape the unit and expose kitchen cabinets and their contents to the fire. Black & Decker received 1,066 food fire complaints involving these toasters; 656 of these involved property damage and 8 involved burn injuries. Call Black & Decker toll-free at (800) 746-2159 to get a free replacement product (video clip, streaming format) (transcript).

- Kmart children's decorative lamps that pose a fire hazard. Kmart recalled 280,000 electric wooden lamps (sold from January 1993 through March 2000) because a short circuit poses a fire hazard. There have been eight fires, two with property damage. Return the lamps to Kmart for a refund (video clip, streaming format) (transcript).

- Halogen torchiere floor lamps need a wire or glass guard to help reduce the fire risk. Over 40 million halogen floor lamps made before 1997 were recalled because they have no guard to protect against fire. CPSC knows of 436 fires and 35 deaths since 1992 related to halogen lamps. People can get the wire guards by sending a postcard to Attention Consumer Services, 18191 NW 68th Avenue, Miami, FL 33015 (video clip, mpeg format, 17 megabytes) (transcript).

- GE and Hotpoint dishwashers that present a fire hazard. General Electric Appliances Co. is voluntarily offering a free repair option in the form of a rewiring for its recalled GE and Hotpoint dishwashers. With the free rewire option, a GE-authorized technician will rewire the slide switch at no cost to consumers. This supplements the original rebate program announced October 19, 1999. The dishwashers have a slide switch that can melt and ignite, presenting a fire hazard. CPSC is aware of approximately 90 incidents associated with these dishwashers. GE manufactured 3.1 million of these dishwashers between 1983 and 1989. Call GE at (800) 599-2929. (video clip, streaming format) (transcript).

- Old electric hair dryers without built-in shock-protection devices in the plug can cause electrocution when the hair dryers fall into water. Destroy these old hazardous products. Do not sell them at garage sales or give them to thrift stores (video clip, streaming format).

"CPSC sometimes learns of deaths or serious injuries caused by previously recalled products. We want to prevent these needless tragedies," said Brown. "We urge people to get CPSC's list of recalls and check for old products that could be hazardous."

CPSC's toll-free telephone hotline and web site provide information about recalled products and information on what to look for when buying products. Consumers can reach the hotline at 800-638-2772 or visit the web site at www.cpsc.gov. Consumers can get a list of major recalls here or get it by sending a postcard to "Recall List," CPSC, Washington, D.C. 20207.

This news release is available in Spanish here or by calling Jesús Chaírez at (214) 827-6239.