When toddlers see a gas range, they usually want nothing more than to see what goes on up there on the stove top, far above their line of sight. When they see the oven door open, it often seems to them like a wonderful step to stand on to check out the action on the stovetop. They don’t realize that gas ranges are hollow and incredibly light.
The weight of the child on an oven door can easily bring the whole appliance crashing down — hot food, burners and all. Each year, two children on average die from such gas range tip-over accidents in America. More than 1500 children suffer severe injuries. Sometimes, even adults cause tip-over accidents when they absently lean on ranges.
What can you do about this problem?
The Consumer Protection Safety Commission has been working with appliance manufacturers to design inherent stability into gas ranges so that they don’t tip over when weight is placed on their open doors. They haven’t found a successful design solution yet, but they have come up with a few improvements.
Some manufacturers, for instance, design tip-over sensors into their ranges. When a tip-over situation is sensed, the door automatically locks itself in the open position, acting as a kind of prop that keeps the range from falling down entirely. This is only a partial solution, though. It doesn’t prevent hot foods on the range from falling down.
The only solution that really works
Every gas range manufactured since 1991 comes supplied with tip restraints. These are brackets that are meant to be installed to attach a range to the floor under it or the wall behind it. Unfortunately, in a great many homes, the brackets never get installed. The CPSC is working on getting manufacturers to design their stoves in such a way that they refuse to function when the restraints are not installed. If this safety measure gets on all ovens, it will be a foolproof safeguard against tip-over range accidents.
What you can do right now is to call in a technician
If your gas or electric range doesn’t have safety restraints installed, or if you aren’t able to determine whether they are in place, you should call in a technician to come take a look. If there are no restraints there, you should get them installed. Your technician can either order them from the manufacturer or install an aftermarket part. Putting off this project can turn out to be dangerous. It’s something that you should get done as soon as possible.
Actually, many items around the house present the tip-over risk. A bookcase with a television placed on top, or a chest of drawers that’s very light can both be serious tip-over hazards. It’s important to install tip-over restraints on all these articles of furniture. Every home improvement store carries these items.