First Cow-Tipping and Now This

Stove-Tipping Raises Concerns–Consumer Groups Call for
Prevention After Deaths, Injuries is frightening headline from my
Washington Post.

Deaths and injuries—who would have known? Let me tell you, I approach my stove with a whole lot more concern after
reading that.

Stove-Tipping Raises Concerns–Consumer Groups Call for
Prevention After Deaths, Injuries is frightening headline from my
Washington Post.

Deaths and injuries—who would have known? Let me tell you, I approach my stove with a whole lot more concern after Ylanqmui
reading that. This isn’t just my washing-machine walking its way across
the laundry-room on the spin cycle, Annys Shin and Ylan Q. Mui (WaPo
staff writers) are the new cutting edge of investigative reporting as
it’s practiced today.
Thank god the alert has been sounded.
In the past twenty-six years, while we were busy slaughtering over a million Americans on our highways and rehabilitating the 54 million disabled by car wrecks, thirty-three people were quietly killed and a mind-numbing eighty-four injured by stoves.
Think of it—a killer in your kitchen. Worse yet, a scalder of babies.
In Los Angeles, a woman’s two-year old opened an oven door, climbed
on it, tipped over the stove and scalded himself and two nephews with a
simmering pot of stew. Fortunately, she was not of a generation that might have berated itself for negligence in letting children play in the kitchen.
The court settlements was sealed, so we have no way of knowing, but stoves do not lunge at children. Far more often, they tip when oven-doors are open (or opened) and the unsupervised climb on or jump on the door.
In any case, in a case of true California madness, guilt and
recompense, the mother was remunerated for her lack of supervisory
skills in the amount of $20 million.
When I was a kid, I stuck my metal pea-shooter into an electric
outlet in the garage–just to see what it would do. What it did, was
knock me clear out into the driveway, a temporarily stunned little
Now, here I am in my old-age, no compensatory damages to fall back
on, no punitive award with which to assuage the slings and arrows of
outrageous fortune. Just the memory of my mom, spanking me for being
such an idiot and then sitting me down to a piece of cake.
Mom is gone now these many years, but Joan Claybrook, president of
something called Public Citizen is substitute-mom to us all. Joan could
be Betty Crocker reincarnated.

deaths and injuries) were documented by the Consumer Product Safety
Commission. Consumer groups called on retailers and manufacturers
yesterday to take steps to prevent such accidents.

“Our concern
is that the public is totally uninformed about these dangers. We think
that everyone who has bought these should be notified,” said Joan
Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy
group. “This is a very serious source of potential harm in everyone’s

Uh huh. Potential, along with radon,
asbestos, electrical appliances, hair dryers in bathtubs, cats in
microwave ovens, lawnmowers, light sockets and putting up the storm
windows. It’s amazing any of us dare to live in homes anymore.
Just the other day I was dusting bookshelves and stepped back,
unknowingly and stupidly off the step-stool upon which I was
precariously balanced. Twisted my ankle and, damn, it hurt.
Fortunately, both the shelves and the stool were purchased at IKEA, so
there will be no finger-pointing about liability when I take a swing at
Ingvar Kamprad in the Swedish courts.
In 1991 Underwriters Laboratories wrote up standards for new ranges and
required that they be fitted with anti-tip devices (a simple bracket).
Additionally, they required a warning in instruction manuals. They did not stipulate individual counseling for all stove purchasers and that was probably shortsighted, but what the hell. In the 15 years since then there have been three injuries and one death. End of issue. Or is it?

issue has gained prominence recently. Awaiting class-action
certification is a lawsuit filed in February in Illinois circuit court
on behalf of Sears shoppers who said they bought ranges but did not
have the anti-tip brackets installed. Last month, Reps. John D. Dingell
(D-Mich.) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) sent a letter to the Consumer
Product Safety Commission chairman requesting information on tipping
accidents over the past three decades.

Gained prominence? You mean like fired U.S. attorneys or no armor for troops in Iraq? How much prominence can one muster over fewer deaths than were recorded from screwing in light bulbs? Next Post expose’—Killer Light Bulbs, are You a Likely Victim?
Question for the Washington Post: Is this what you folks in the newsroom consider prominent these days?
While you are busy closing down foreign bureaus and cutting back on
reporters, is this really the highest and best use of not one, but two
staff reporters? Are we a nation that has gone nuts and lost our sense
of perspective, or is it this kind of reporting that has inured us to
the eight American and four Brit soldiers killed in Iraq yesterday?
$26 million for a scalded kid and insufficient therapy available at the Veterans Administration. And we allow that fact to occupy space in our minds. We do not scream. John Dingell and Bart Stupak actually send off letters concerning three decades of information on stoves tipping over.
The length and breadth and width of our superficiality is never a
question. We are a mile wide and an inch deep. I include myself, melted
pea-shooter and all.
Forgive me, Ms. Claybrook.
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