COLORADO SPRINGS — A combination of shutdowns during the pandemic and lingering supply chain issues has created a nationwide backlog for purchasing new home appliances. It means more people are having to stick with faulty products, or buy used ones that could be unsafe. News5 takes a deep dive into why it's getting the attention of firefighters.
When was the last time you did a search online for information about your home appliances? Did you take the time to register them so you'll be notified in the event of a safety recall? Firefighters say they've seen the damage that can be done when this isn't a priority.
Right now people trying to buy new home appliances will tell you it's taking six to eight weeks to be able to bring something home. Not wanting to wait, many people are leaning on old appliances longer and even trying to get repairs done can be a challenge because supply chain issues are impacting the availability of parts as well.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department says in this climate now is the time to uncover if you're using any home appliances that are unsafe.
"Doing the research on whatever appliance you currently have in your home because it may have been in your home for awhile and it was not known that there's a recall on it or a new upgrade that needs to be done. Kind of like your car you want to make sure you're paying attention to those things," said Sunny Smaldino of the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
And these numbers from the National Fire Protection Association show the annual fire danger caused by home appliances. Ovens and cooking ranges account for 61% of home cooking fires. Dryers and washing machines cause on average 16,000 home structure fires each year. Thousands of dishwashers have also been recently recalled for fire dangers and refrigerators from 2006 to 2010 caused $23 million dollars in damages when they caught fire.
To try to keep up with these potential fire hazards, the Colorado Springs Fire Department tells me fire codes are constantly being updated.
"It is really something we see very frequently as far as things not working properly and a lot of times now that we've learned about how things work in the electrical world, codes change," said Smaldino. "So just what codes were a couple years ago they've found we need to have a dedicated circuit for a refrigerator where we didn't have to in the past. Now, we do. But if you've been in a home for 10 or 15 years have you gone and changed the circuit? Probably not."
Fire experts say one of the best ways to prevent the damage of a home appliance electrical fire is to register those appliances and report any concerns right away.
"If you see any problems or recalls if you're a renter you need to notify your property management and get that handled right away," said Sunny Smaldino. "Especially if you're in an apartment complex, or places where you have lots of homes that just creates a lot of danger not just for you, but everybody else."
According to Consumer Reports recalls are happening frequently, but people rarely respond. In 2018, 34 million products were recalled in the U.S. and 271 recalls were issued by the consumer product safety commission.
But consumers followed up on recalls just 6% of the time. Consumer experts say it's because people aren't notified because companies don't have contact information because products were never registered.
To sign up for safety alerts, search for, and report unsafe products visit: https://www.cpsc.gov/
Also, if you have any questions about fire dangers related to home appliances you can always reach out to the experts at the Colorado Springs Fire Department: https://coloradosprings.gov/fire-department/page/fire-prevention-safety-0