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Small appliance safety

Most of us use multiple small appliances – coffeemakers, irons, hair dryers, ovens, microwaves – every day. They make our lives more convenient, but do carry some risks. Here are some ways to keep small helpers from creating big losses:

  • When buying new appliances, look for safety features like automatic shutoffs and retractable cords.
  • Make sure your appliances are approved by an independent safety laboratory like Underwriter's Laboratories. You'll find the UL symbol on all approved appliances and tools.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer's guidelines for safely operating your small appliances.
  • Practice good electrical cord hygiene: make sure cords and plugs aren't frayed or cracked.
  • Plug appliances directly into wall sockets (preferably GFCI) instead of power strips, whenever possible.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use. Not only will this avoid potential electrical hazards, it will save you on power usage.
  • Keep appliances clean from excess crumbs, dust, and debris. 
  • If a fuse keeps blowing or a circuit keeps tripping, you might have a fire or shock hazard on your hands. Don't take chances -- unplug the item and have a professional look at it.
  • Water and electricity do not mix. Keep small appliances away from water. If you should happen to drop an appliance in water, don't reach in to get it until you can safely cut the power to the circuit.

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