One-year-old child killed when range tips over

Consumer Reports News: November 23, 2010 04:31 PM

A heartbreaking story out of Las Vegas: one-year-old Elijah Landeros died after the kitchen stove in his family’s apartment toppled over onto him. Elijah’s father went out to the car to get a diaper bag and when he came back into the apartment his son was pinned under the stove. Investigators say the child climbed onto the stove’s door and his weight caused the stove to fall over on him.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently completed a review of range tip-over hazards and has started a public awareness campaign called “The Tipping Point.” Here are their key findings:

  • There were 1,600 injuries in 2006 from appliance tip-overs; most of the victims were children under 5.
  • There were 13 deaths from 2000 to 2006; most victims were children under 10 or adults over 70.
  • The ranges associated with tip-over fatalities and injuries are freestanding or slide-in stoves with oven doors that swing downward.
  • How do these accidents happen? Children pull open a stove door and climb on top of it, causing the range to tip over. Older adults lean on a stove door for support, causing the range to tip over.
  • Heat from the range makes injuries worse.
  • None of the ranges involved in tip-overs were secured to the wall, floor or cabinets.

 The CPSC staff recommends these preventative measures:

  1. Manufacturers should create better inherent stability by designing ranges capable of staying upright when 100 pounds is placed on an open oven door. This might require some major redesign of some oven doors and hinges.
  2. Design door hinges that lock into the open position once a range starts to tip forward. One drawback to this option is that hot liquids on a stovetop could still spill.
  3. Require anti-tip devices that prevent the range from working unless they are installed. This is probably the cheapest and most effective recommendation.
  4. Ranges could be also designed to automatically shut off heating elements if they tip over.

What can you do now to prevent a range tip-over in your home? Secure your stove with the tip restraints provided by the manufacturer. These brackets are shipped with all new ranges (made after 1991) but most aren’t installed. If you lost your safety bracket or have an older range (the range that killed Elijah Landeros was built in 1987), call the manufacturer and ask for a tip restraint. The CPSC is not aware of a single injury or fatality caused by a range that has had the brackets installed correctly. And the best advice of all, don’t allow your kids or anyone else to put their weight on an open oven door.

Note: Injuries and deaths from appliance tip-overs are small in comparison to the deaths and injuries associated with tipping furniture. We are still fighting for a strong safety standard that would deal with furniture tip-over.
--Desiree Ferenczi

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