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Don't Use Electric Heaters In Bathrooms, CPSC Cautions

Release Date: March 19, 1990

Following three recent fatalities, Government safety experts are warning consumers not to use portable electric heaters in bathrooms or near other sources of water in the home.

In a Missouri accident, an energized portable electric heater was placed on the edge of a bathtub while two children ages two and four were bathing. Unattended at the time, the children pulled the heater into the tub and were electrocuted.

In an Illinois accident, a 65-year-old woman was electrocuted when the portable electric heater she had placed on the tub edge fell into the water while she was bathing.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said the availability of small, lightweight portable electric space heaters may make it easier for consumers to use them to heat rooms such as the bathroom. If electric heaters are used near water in the home, the appliance poses an electrocution hazard for all family members.

CPSC said that most electric heaters do not have protection against electrocution should the appliance come in contact with water. For this reason, electric heaters should not be used in bathrooms.

CPSC reminds consumers that ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) can be installed in any wall outlet to protect consumers against electrocution hazards and are particularly desirable for outdoor outlets and in bathrooms, kitchens, basements and garages. A GFCI constantly monitors electricity flowing through a circuit. If an electric appliance accidentally topples into a sink or tub, the GFCI will shut down the power in milliseconds to protect the consumer against electrocution. Consumers should also consider using portable GFCI shock protectors that can be plugged into outlets when they are using electrical products in and around the home.

Consumers may obtain a free copy of the Government's fact sheet on ground-fault circuit interrupters by sending a postcard to GFCI, Washington, D.C. 20207

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About the U.S. CPSC
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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