Heater and Ladder Dangers Highlighted by Recalls

Two more recalls were announced last week by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that emphasize some ongoing safety concerns over two popular <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">household products:  Ladders and oscillating heaters.  These recalls serve as a reminder that consumers should conduct frequent safety inspection of these items, regardless of their recall status.

The CPSC recalled 152,000 “Aloha Breeze’” portable electric heaters for overheating problems:  Plastic parts can melt and the heaters are a fire hazard.  In all, there have been 29 reports of heaters melting, smoking, or catching fire, including 18 reports of property damage and one report of burns to a consumer’s hands and feet.  The “Aloha Breeze” heater was made in China and sold at Wal-Mart and other retail chain stores nationwide from August 2006 through November 2007 and retailed for between $35 and $45.  The “Aloha Breeze” heater is an oscillating heater—that is, it contains a mechanism that enables it to move from side to side, spreading heat in multiple locations.  While the oscillation technology better heats a room, the current safety standard for oscillating heaters may not be strong enough to protect consumers from some of their associated dangers; efforts are underway to revise and strengthen that standard.  But, for now, it is suggested that fans be used in oscillating mode only when necessary and always when attended by an appropriate adult.  Frequently inspect the cord for fraying or weakness, especially where the cord enters the unit and never use a heater whose cord shows weakness or fraying.  The CPSC advises consumers to immediately stop using the recalled heaters and contact Aloha Housewares at 1-800-295-4448 to receive a free replacement product.

The CPSC also recalled 25,000 fiberglass extension ladders because they pose fall hazards to consumers.  The extension or “fly” section of the “Louisville/Davidson” and “Michigan” brand ladders can fail to lock.  The recall involves models made from September 2007 through October 2007 and sold at industrial supply stores and home centers nationwide through December 2007; the ladders retail anywhere from $130 to $760.  The product’s date code can be found on the left side rail.  The CPSD advises consumers to immediately stop using the ladder and contact Louisville Ladder for instructions on inspecting the ladder and receiving a free repair kit, if necessary. Call (800) 660-4356 or go to the firm’s Web site at www.louisvilleladder.com.  Approximately 164,000 ladder-related emergency-room visits and 150 deaths are reported each year by the CPSC.  Log on to Consumer Reports Online to learn how to use a ladder safely for some helpful tips on ladder use.

Last week, the CPSC issued two other recalls for heating devices.  Greenheck Fan Corporation recalled 1,500 Indirect Gas-Fired Furnaces due ignition control module failure that prevents the unit from shutting down in high temperatures and posing a risk of fire and hazardous fumes being released from burning or melting insulation.  The CPSC also recalled 52,000 Rinnai America Corporation Wall Furnaces due to carbon monoxide hazards.  There were 11 reports of carbon monoxide leaking from the direct-vent furnace whose gasket can fail, posing a risk of poisonous gas leaking into the home.

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