Ironing out the kinks: Household appliance injuries have fallen

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Does your vacuum have a vendetta? Is your refrigerator out for revenge? While household appliances are designed to help, sometimes they hurt us.

The latest LendingTree study delved into emergency room (ER) visits because of household appliance injuries. We looked at how these injuries have changed, who was most likely to get injured and which appliances were the biggest culprits.

The good news is that injuries fell 10.0% between 2013 and 2022. Still, there are tens of thousands of related injuries yearly — including more than 150,000 in 2022.

Read on for more data that may change how you see your appliances.

  • Household appliance injuries fell 10.0% between 2013 and 2022. Appliance injuries peaked at 182,582 in 2017, then steadily declined for three years, falling by as much as 11.9% in 2020. Despite the overall decline, there was a 5.4% increase in injuries between 2021 and 2022.
  • Children 4 and younger were the most likely to be treated in emergency departments due to injuries from household appliances. From 2013 to 2022, children 4 and younger accounted for 9.8% of related injuries. That’s followed by Americans ages 50 to 54 and 55 to 59 (both at 6.5%). Meanwhile, Americans ages 10 to 14 accounted for just 3.1% of emergency room visits due to appliance injuries.
  • Among the household appliances analyzed, refrigerators caused the most injuries. In the 10 years studied, there were 427,454 refrigerator-related injuries. Following that, unspecified ranges or ovens caused 325,737 injuries and vacuum cleaners caused 188,704. On the other hand, air purifiers caused the fewest injuries, at 1,304 — lower than vaporizers (2,054) and dehumidifiers (2,268).
  • Injuries caused by gas ranges or ovens jumped the most between 2018 and 2022. In a narrower five-year analysis, injuries from gas ranges or ovens jumped by 43.2% — significantly higher than unspecified clothes dryers, which saw the second-biggest jump, at 24.3%. The only other appliance with a double-digit percentage increase was sewing machines or accessories, at 12.3%.
  • Women were significantly more likely than men to visit an emergency department due to injuries from sewing machines or accessories. Going back to the 10-year analysis from 2013 to 2022, women sustained 83.3% of injuries from sewing machines or accessories. Women also experienced the highest share of injuries from rug shampooers (78.1%) and vacuum cleaners (72.1%). Meanwhile, men sustained 62.3% of the injuries from trash compactors.

Just how dangerous are your appliances? Well, based on the number of emergency department visits reported for appliance injuries, they’re getting safer, with injuries falling by 10.0% between 2013 and 2022.

The most injuries — 182,582 — were reported in 2017. After that, there was a steady decline in reported injuries for three years, falling by as much as 11.9% in 2020 to 143,068.

The pandemic, which started in early 2020, likely played a major role in that decline. While it may seem like the increased time spent at home during the pandemic would result in more household appliance injuries, the opposite was true. That’s likely because, injured or not, people were more hesitant to go to the ER, especially in the early days of the pandemic.

Daily ER visits overall dropped by an average of 20% during the pandemic compared to 2019, according to research published via the National Library of Medicine. And during the early days of the pandemic — March 29 to April 25, 2020 — ER visits dropped even more, by 42% overall and 72% among kids younger than 10, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The number of reported household appliance injuries has rebounded since, increasing by 0.1% to 143,280 in 2021, and then by 5.4% in 2022. Still, the number of injuries (150,960) in 2022 was lower than in any of the past 10 years outside the first two years of the pandemic.

Household appliance injuries, 2013 to 2022

Year Household appliance injuries YoY % change % change from 2013
2013 167,641 N/A N/A
2014 162,389 ‘-3.1% ‘-3.1%
2015 165,903 2.2% ‘-1.0%
2016 173,645 4.7% 3.6%
2017 182,582 5.1% 8.9%
2018 171,574 ‘-6.0% 2.3%
2019 162,342 ‘-5.4% ‘-3.2%
2020 143,068 ‘-11.9% ‘-14.7%
2021 143,280 0.1% ‘-14.5%
2022 150,960 5.4% ‘-10.0%

Source: LendingTree analysis of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database.

So, what happens if someone gets injured by one of your home appliances? Are you covered under your home insurance policy? That depends on the type of coverage you have, says Rob Bhatt, LendingTree home insurance expert and a licensed insurance agent.

He says the general rules of insurance would apply to injuries caused by household appliances. Homeowners insurance covers your home, your belongings, injuries to guests visiting your home, and injuries and property damage you cause to others. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover injuries to you or others who live with you, though health insurance does.

Your homeowners policy’s guest medical coverage pays for the initial medical treatment of someone injured while visiting your home, but guest medical limits typically only range from $1,000 to $5,000. This may be enough to cover an emergency room visit for a minor injury, but not much more.

If the appliance injury resulted from your neglect, including improper maintenance, your guest could file a personal liability claim against you with your insurance company. If the accident is clearly your fault, your insurance company is likely to pay the claim. If the liability claim leads to a lawsuit, your insurance company also covers your legal defense.

Little ones are the group most frequently seen in ERs for household appliance injuries. Those 4 and younger made up 9.8% of appliance injuries between 2013 and 2022. They’re likely not using the appliances at their age, but they’re at risk for tip-over injuries and falling after climbing into or on top of appliances like washing machines.

After the 4-and-younger group, the highest rate of appliance injuries happened to those in their 50s. The 50-to-54 and 55-to-59 age groups each made up 6.5% of appliance injuries over the 10 years analyzed.

The rate of ER visits due to household appliance injuries dropped significantly after age 4. Those in the 5-to-9 age group made up just 4.1% of appliance injuries. Interestingly enough, tweens and teens (those in the 10-to-14 and 15-to-19 age groups) made up the lowest percentage of appliance injuries, at 3.1% and 3.9%, respectively. Old enough to know how to use appliances and not crawl on them, but household-chore avoidant perhaps?

Household appliance injuries by age, 2013 to 2022

Age Total injuries Percentage of injuries
0 to 4 years 159,533 9.8%
5 to 9 years 66,815 4.1%
10 to 14 years 49,538 3.1%
15 to 19 years 63,958 3.9%
20 to 24 years 88,667 5.5%
25 to 29 years 100,581 6.2%
30 to 34 years 103,827 6.4%
35 to 39 years 102,811 6.3%
40 to 44 years 95,967 5.9%
45 to 49 years 96,680 6.0%
50 to 54 years 105,288 6.5%
55 to 59 years 105,116 6.5%
60 to 64 years 93,092 5.7%
65 to 69 years 84,675 5.2%
70 to 74 years 77,754 4.8%
75 to 79 years 73,398 4.5%
80 to 84 years 62,181 3.8%
85 years and older 93,501 5.8%

Source: LendingTree analysis of the NEISS database.

Does age matter when it comes to insurance coverage and premiums regarding appliance injuries?

Your age impacts health insurance and auto insurance rates, but it’s not as much of a factor for homeowners or renters insurance. For home insurance, the number of recent claims you’ve had and your credit (in most states) will be bigger factors.

“By virtue of their age, older people have had more time to establish a favorable insurance and credit history — or have past blemishes come off their record,” Bhatt says.

Your fridge may not be as chill as you think. Refrigerators were responsible for 427,454 ER visits between 2013 and 2022 — the highest number among the tracked products. Many injuries are attributed to slips and falls while using refrigerators, especially when defects result in hazards such as puddles and spills surrounding them.

Unspecified ranges or ovens (meaning it’s unclear whether a gas or electric oven caused the injury) were next, responsible for 325,737 injuries during the same period. Electric ranges or ovens (excluding countertop ovens) led to 35,271 ER visits during this time, and gas ranges or ovens were responsible for 30,417. Burns and scalds are a common result of range or oven injuries.

The most innocuous household appliances? You can breathe easier around your air purifiers. They were the source of just 1,304 ER visits between 2013 and 2022 — the lowest number among the appliances with available data. Vaporizers and dehumidifiers rounded out the bottom three, causing 2,054 and 2,268 injuries, respectively, during this time.

Household appliance injuries by product, 2013 to 2022

Rank Product Household appliance injuries
1 Refrigerators 427,454
2 Ranges or ovens, not specified 325,737
3 Vacuum cleaners 188,704
4 Washing machines, other or not specified 132,914
5 Microwave ovens 112,489
6 Dishwashers 104,585
7 Clothes dryers, not specified 78,962
8 Freezers (separate from refrigerators) 67,424
9 Clothing irons 46,239
10 Electric ranges or ovens (excluding countertop ovens) 35,271
11 Gas ranges or ovens 30,417
12 Sewing machines or accessories 24,353
13 Appliances, other and not specified 17,977
14 Electric clothes dryers without washers 9,851
15 Rug shampooers 6,722
16 Humidifiers 6,096
17 Floor buffers or waxers 4,807
18 Other ranges or ovens 4,802
19 Trash compactors 4,370
20 Clothes steamers 2,391
21 Dehumidifiers 2,268
22 Vaporizers 2,054
23 Air purifiers 1,304

Source: LendingTree analysis of the NEISS database. Note: The NEISS doesn’t include specific breakdowns in a given period when the estimate is less than 1,200.

“Now you’re cooking with gas” may take on a whole new meaning these days. In the five most recent years with available data — 2018 to 2022 — some appliances saw significant injury spikes. Injuries from gas ranges or ovens topped the list, with a 43.2% increase during this time. During the same period, injuries from unspecified ranges or ovens fell by 17.2% and injuries from electric ovens or ranges dipped by 27.9%.

There’s increasing concern over the pollutants that gas stoves emit that can potentially cause health problems, such as an increased risk of childhood asthma. There have been pushes to ban them altogether, and the federal government offers incentives to consumers who switch from a gas stove to an electric one in the form of rebates of up to $840 under the federal Inflation Reduction Act.

Will having a gas stove inflate your insurance premiums? Perhaps. Some insurance companies charge more for homes with natural gas appliances, and some may require specialized insurance.

Other home appliances that saw an increase in injuries during this period include:

  • Clothes dryers (24.3%)
  • Sewing machines or accessories (12.3%)
  • Microwave ovens (3.2%)

Appliances with the biggest decrease in injuries during this period included clothing irons (43.6%) and washing machines (36.9%).

With more people working from home, and more casual office attire and wrinkle-free fabrics, does anyone iron anymore?

Change in household appliances injuries by product, 2018 to 2022

Rank Product Household appliance injuries, 2018 Household appliance injuries, 2022 % change in household appliance injuries, 2018 to 2022
1 Gas ranges or ovens 2,867 4,105 43.2%
2 Clothes dryers, not specified 6,830 8,490 24.3%
3 Sewing machines or accessories 2,180 2,448 12.3%
4 Microwave ovens 10,801 11,145 3.2%
5 Refrigerators 44,643 44,478 ‘-0.4%
6 Dishwashers 10,460 9,702 ‘-7.2%
7 Freezers (separate from refrigerators) 7,439 6,397 ‘-14.0%
8 Ranges or ovens, not specified 35,199 29,137 ‘-17.2%
9 Vacuum cleaners 21,251 16,336 ‘-23.1%
10 Electric ranges or ovens (excluding countertop ovens) 3,000 2,162 ‘-27.9%
11 Appliances, other and not specified 2,149 1,482 ‘-31.0%
12 Washing machines, other or not specified 14,947 9,429 ‘-36.9%
13 Clothing irons 4,679 2,640 ‘-43.6%

Source: LendingTree analysis of the NEISS database. Note: The NEISS doesn’t include specific breakdowns in a given period when the estimate is less than 1,200.

When we again look at appliance-related injuries in the 10 years from 2013 to 2022, it’s interesting to note that the rate of injuries for women and men varied drastically among some appliances.

For example, women accounted for 83.3% of sewing machine or accessories injuries, while men only accounted for 16.7% of them. That’s likely because more women than men have traditionally embraced sewing.

Other appliance categories where women made up a significantly higher percentage of injury reports include:

  • Rug shampooers (78.1%)
  • Vacuum cleaners (72.1%)
  • Dishwashers (65.1%)

We’ll let you draw conclusions as to what that may mean in terms of who embraces the use of these appliances most often, but women were injured more often than men by each of the tracked household appliances — except for four. Men made up a higher percentage of injuries for:

  • Trash compactors (62.3%)
  • Appliances, other and not specified (54.8%)
  • Washing machines (52.6%)
  • Refrigerators (50.8%)

Percentage point difference in injuries by gender and product, 2013 to 2022

Rank Product % injuries from household appliances, women % injuries from household appliances, men % point difference in injuries from household appliances
1 Sewing machines or accessories 83.3% 16.7% 66.5
2 Rug shampooers 78.1% 21.9% 56.3
3 Vacuum cleaners 72.1% 27.9% 44.1
4 Dishwashers 65.1% 34.9% 30.2
5 Other ranges or ovens 64.0% 36.0% 27.9
6 Gas ranges or ovens 63.5% 36.5% 26.9
7 Electric ranges or ovens (excluding countertop ovens) 58.1% 41.9% 16.1
8 Freezers (separate from refrigerators) 57.6% 42.4% 15.2
9 Microwave ovens 57.3% 42.7% 14.5
10 Ranges or ovens, not specified 56.7% 43.3% 13.4
11 Clothes dryers, not specified 55.0% 45.0% 10.1
12 Clothing irons 54.8% 45.2% 9.7
13 Humidifiers 53.3% 46.7% 6.5
14 Refrigerators 49.2% 50.8% ‘-1.5
15 Washing machines, other or not specified 47.4% 52.6% ‘-5.1
16 Appliances, other and not specified 45.2% 54.8% ‘-9.7
17 Trash compactors 37.7% 62.3% ‘-24.6

Source: LendingTree analysis of the NEISS database. Note: More precise percentages were used for the calculations, but the differences are displayed with one decimal for consistency.

If you or someone else is injured by one of your household appliances, your first thought may be that your homeowners or renters insurance will cover any expenses to treat that injury. That’s not always the case, though. Here are some important things to know about homeowners insurance and household appliance injuries:

  • What homeowners insurance does and doesn’t cover: As a reminder, homeowners insurance covers your home, your belongings, injuries to guests visiting your home, and injuries and property damage you cause to others. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover injuries to you or others who live with you, though health insurance does.
  • Liability insurance: The liability coverage in homeowners and renters insurance covers injuries or property damage you cause to others. This can include injuries that result from an improperly maintained appliance. “If something like a worn natural gas line on your property leads to an explosion that injures someone, you can potentially be financially responsible for the injured person’s medical treatment, as well as any damage the explosion causes to other people’s property, such as a neighbor’s home,” Bhatt says.
  • Damage coverage: While home insurance doesn’t cover appliance injuries to you and your family, it covers damage from many different types of appliance accidents. “For example, home insurance typically covers damage from a natural gas explosion in your home, unless you intentionally cause the explosion or it’s the result of your neglect,” Bhatt says. “Similarly, the damage from a sudden and accidental release of water from a heating or cooling system, such as a ruptured water heater, is also usually covered.”
  • Check your coverage: If you’re sued for an appliance injury that happens on your property, things could get expensive. Make sure you know your limit, and talk to your agent about potentially raising your personal liability limit.
  • Faulty appliances: If the injury results from a defective faulty appliance, the injured person — whether it’s you or a guest — could sue the manufacturer to recoup medical costs.

LendingTree researchers analyzed Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data via the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to find the number of household appliance injuries treated in emergency departments.

Researchers examined various periods between 2013 and 2022, breaking down the data by year, age, appliance category and gender.

Note that the NEISS doesn’t include data for a selected period if the injury estimate is less than 1,200.

Source

This article originally appeared on LendingTree and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on LendingTree and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

Like MediaFeed's content? Be sure to follow us.