A 2006 study in the American Journal of Behavioral Health found that clothing irons cause the majority of the contact burns that 78,000 U.S. infants and toddlers suffer each year. Since an electric iron has to be hot to work, there is no way to prevent every burn, but the proper use and care can remove much of the danger that surrounds the iron.
Connection to Outlets
Electric irons are high-wattage devices, meaning that they draw a lot of power from the circuit. Do not operate any other high-wattage devices on the same circuit as the iron, to avoid overloading it. If you use an extension cord, make sure that it is rated for the same, or higher, amperage as the iron. Amperage information can be found in the operating manual of the iron. Always turn the iron off, or to its lowest setting, before plugging it in or out of an outlet. Never yank on the cord to unplug an iron, always grasp the plug and pull it out.
Always use an electric iron with an ironing board. Never attempt to iron or stream fabrics while they are being worn. Never iron clothing on the floor or bed, as there is rarely a safe place to rest the iron. Do not attempt to us an iron for any purpose other than for ironing clothes.
Never leave the iron's electrical cord hanging over a trafficked area. The cord will represent a trip hazard and the hot iron could land on someone if the cord is pulled. If there is any damage to the cord, do not use the iron as this could lead to an electric shock. Keep the cord away from hot surfaces at all time.
Iron and Water
Do not immerse an iron in water, due to risk of electric shock. When you are filling a steam iron with water, remember to disconnect the iron from the outlet. Be careful when turning a filled iron upside-down, as there may be hot water in the reservoir.
Ironing in an area where children are represents a whole set of issues since children might not be aware of the danger involved in touching an iron. Never use an iron away from an ironing board as young children are less likely to be able to reach the iron when it is high on a board. Always keep your eye on children when you are using the iron, and never leave a hot iron unattended when children are nearby.
Automatic Safety Features
Because of the dangers associated with hot irons, manufacturers have come up with some features to protect people. Some irons come with an anti-drip feature that stops water from flowing once the iron drops below a certain temperature. This will stop hot water from spewing out of the soleplate when the iron is cooling down. Some irons also come with a auto-off feature, which turns off a plugged in iron after a set amount of time. The iron will wait several minutes before turning off if the iron is resting on its heel, but only half a minute if the iron is resting on its face or on its side.
A 2005 task force formed by the University of Rochester Medical Center looked to help solve the persistent problem of children receiving burns from the misuse of irons. The task force looked to a group of Rochester chemical engineering students who decided to create a "shoe" for the iron. They created a silicone rubber cover for an iron that stayed below the burn threshold of 48.9 degrees Celsius when an iron was unplugged and left in the shoe to cool. The shoe also contained a Velcro strap, so that the shoe would stay on if the iron was disturbed while it was cooling.
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