When we interviewed people involved in the 163 shattering incidents that we examined for our story, most of whom had filed reports with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, several told us about family, friends, or co-workers who had a similar but unreported experience with glass bakeware.
We found a cluster of three cases that involved women who all happened to work together at a department store near Sacramento, Calif., and it illustrates the different ways an accident can occur.
Valerie Biddle of Orangeville, Calif., said she suffered serious injuries in 2006 after she turned on the broiler for a few minutes to finish cooking chicken she'd been baking at 350 degrees in a Pyrex dish. Putting glass bakeware under a broiler goes against the safety instructions for any brand, including the original version of Pyrex. The warning is molded onto the glass bakeware dishes.
According to the CPSC report, the dish shattered shortly after Biddle removed it from the oven, and sharp shards cut her feet, severing tendons in both of them.
Biddle said that after being disabled for several months as she underwent surgery and physical therapy to regain the ability to walk, she returned to her job as a retail manager at the store and discovered that just a month earlier, one of her co-workers also had a frightening glass bakeware experience.
That co-worker, LeAnn Lercari, the store's loss-prevention manager, said she had just placed a Pyrex dish filled with enchiladas into the microwave to warm them up during a party at her home when the dish suddenly shattered. Because no one was hurt and she considered it a fluke, she didn't report the incident. "I knew Valerie had been injured but I didn't know it was because of a Pyrex dish exploding until after it happened to me," Lercari said.
Another of Biddle's co-workers, Carla Thaden, said that about a year later she was baking a tamale pie at 350 degrees in a Pyrex dish when she heard a boom in her kitchen as the dish shattered in the oven. Grateful that neither she nor her 2-year-old granddaughter had been hurt, Thaden promptly contacted World Kitchen and the CPSC.
"I definitely wanted to file reports so that it would be on record and hopefully this won't keep happening to others," Thaden said. "When you consider that there are three of us in just one workplace who've had this experience, I think it's clear that this is more common than anyone realizes."
Because none of the women saved shards of their shattered bakeware for the Pyrex manufacturer World Kitchen to examine, the company said it could not "speculate about the product identity or cause of the breakage" for any of these cases.
While the number of incidents reported involves only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions of dishes in use, each case may contain lessons. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics about glass bakeware unexpectedly shattering give only a partial indication of how often this occurs because consumers don't always file reports. That's why we urge anyone who has this experience to report it to the CPSC (800-638-22772 or firstname.lastname@example.org). We also invite readers to send their stories to us at TellCR@cro.consumer.org.