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CPSC Cautions Hair Dryer Owners

Release Date: March 22, 1982

Hand-held hair dryers are so compact and easy to use, you might not give a second thought to where you use or store them.

That's a dangerous attitude, according to Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

A person using a hand-held dryer while bathing risks electrocution, warn the CPSC, a federal regulatory agency, and UL, a private, not-for-profit testing and standards development organization. A fatal shock also is possible if a dryer falls or is pulled into a tub of water in which someone is bathing or if someone reaches or steps into water containing a plugged-in dryer.

"It doesn't matter if the dryer's switch is on or off. If the dryer is plugged in, the water may be electrified," a spokesperson for the two organizations said.

Underwriters Laboratories modified its marking requirements for hair dryers after the CPSC brought to UL's attention reports of injuries and deaths attributed to consumer misuse of hair dryers. Under the modified requirements, hair dryers must be permanently. marked "Danqer-- Electrocution possible if used or dropped in tub. Unplug after using." A tag with warning instructions also is required by UL to be attached to the power supply cord.

Hair dryers are electrical appliances, and using them -- even under normal conditions -- requires common sense precautions, UL and the CPSC point out. In addition, the two organizations urge people to observe the following specific safety rules for hand-held hair dryers:

- First, before using a-hair dryer, read all warnings and instructions.

- Unplug when not being used.

- Don't use a hair dryer while bathing.

- Don't place or store a hair dryer where it can fall or be pulled into a tub or sink.

- Don't drop or put a hair dryer into water or other liquid.

- Don't reach for a hair dryer if it falls into water or other liquid; unplug it immediately, and then remove it.

- Don't block the air openings of a hair dryer Don't place it on a soft surface, such as a bed or couch, during operation; air openings may be blocked and, also, you may create a risk of fire.

- Don't drop or insert anything into a hair dryer's openings.

- Keep air openings free of lint, hair and other matter.

- Don't use a hair dryer outdoors.

- Don't operate a hair dryer where aerosol or spray products are being used, or where oxygen is being administered.

- Don't use any attachments that aren't recommended by the manufacturer.

- Keep the cord away from heated surfaces.

- If a hair dryer has been dropped into water or other liquid, if it doesn't work properly or if the cord, plug or other parts are damaged, discard it or take it to a service center for repairs.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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