A longstanding safety problem with kitchen ranges could affect as many as 20 million homes in the U.S., consumer advocates warn. Affected ovens tip forward when weight is applied to open doors or lower drawers, crushing and burning consumers in the process. According to Public Citizen, a national non-profit public interest group, reports of fatalities include children as young as 12 months, weighing as little as 24 pounds, and elderly people who lean on the appliances for support, particularly when cleaning or cooking. More than 100 reported cases of death and injury from scalding due to hot foods have surfaced to date. Officials believe the true number is actually much higher.
Tipping became prevalent after 1980, when many manufacturers switched to lightweight steel to reduce costs, and ovens became lighter and more top-heavy. After 1991, industry standards required that ovens remain upright when 250 pounds of pressure was applied to open doors and drawers. Many manufacturers began to include wall-mounting brackets with new ovens to comply with the standards, but in many instances the brackets were never installed, often because arrangements between retail stores and delivery / installation subcontractors did not acknowledge the relevance of the bracket. According to CPSC, Sears (a major retailer of kitchen ranges) admitted in an internal memorandum in 1996 that only about 5% of their ovens were installed in a manner consistent with the industry standard.
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