By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When throwing clothes in the dryer or turning on the stove, most of us don’t think of that appliance as a potential fire hazard. But defective or broken items can put your family at risk. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has this advice to keep your family safe.

When appliances are defective, old or aren’t used properly, it can put an entire home at risk. The first step towards safe appliances, Consumer Reports says, is keeping tabs on product recalls by registering new appliances.

“That way, if a defect is discovered by the manufacturer and a recall is issued, you’re guaranteed to hear about that recall promptly, and you can take all the necessary actions to protect yourself,” explains Dan DiClerico of Consumer Reports.

Look for changes in your appliance. Even small annoyances like a light that’s gone out can be signs of a bigger problem. According to DiClerico, “Any kind of unusual activity with an appliance is a sign that you need to take a closer look, perhaps even call in a repairman, and make sure there isn’t a larger issue there.”

Other ways to keep your home safe:

— Inspect power cords regularly for frays and damage.

— Check your home’s wiring. Make sure older homes can handle the demands of modern appliances.

— Clean range hoods. Grease buildup is another fire hazard.

— Keep dryer vents clear.

Also, practice common sense kitchen safety. Unplug small kitchen appliances when you’re leaving the house, and don’t leave items on the stovetop or in the microwave unattended.

Consumer Reports has a really great resource page with more information about appliance fires, how to prevent them, and how to check if your appliance may have been recalled. For more information, visit:

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