What Are the Dangers of Refrigerators?

Erin Schreiner

While the refrigerator is a useful household appliance that few would want to live without, this kitchen standard can present dangers if steps are not taken to ensure the safe use and disposal of it.

Refrigerators are a household appliance staple.

Many people fail to realize the dangers that their refrigerators pose and, as such, do not properly protect themselves from these dangers. By considering the potential risks associated with owning a refrigerator and taking steps to minimize these risks, you can increase the likelihood that your ownership of a refrigerator is a happy and risk-free one.

Fire Hazards

Refrigerators, like many other electrical appliances, can pose a fire hazard if not properly maintained. To minimize fire risk, owners must exercise extreme caution when moving their refrigerators to ensure that they don't accidentally set the appliance on its own power cord. If the refrigerator is set upon its own cord, it can easily cut through the protective coating and expose potentially dangerous wires that could spark a fire. Another potential fire hazard danger associated with refrigerators occurs when water pools in the unit and ultimately seeps into the electrical system. Electrical Testing Services, a commercial and domestic electric safety testing service, recommends that refrigerator owners be cognizant of these dangers and regularly look over the interior and exterior of their refrigerators to check for signs of danger.

Bulky fridges are particularly dangerous to children who often fail to realize the damage that these monstrous appliances could inflict. If children use refrigerators improperly, the appliance could tip and potentially crush them. For example, if a child attempts to climb on or hang from an unsecured refrigerator, the appliance could easily tip due to the inequitable weight distribution. To avoid this, owners should either secure their refrigerators to the wall or carefully monitor children around these appliances.

Children who play in or near refrigerators also run the risk of accidentally becoming trapped inside the appliance. This risk is particularly real when dealing with discarded refrigerators. Many children become interested in refrigerators that are not in use and attempt to turn the appliance into a play place, resulting in potentially deadly consequences. Parents should warn their children of the risks posed by refrigerators and caution them not to play around these appliances. Any discarded refrigerator should have its door removed.

Dangers from Improper Disposal

When refrigerator owners fail to dispose of their exhausted appliances responsibly, both humans and the environment suffer. As the EPA reports, refrigerators contain an assortment of chemicals and compounds that are not ecologically friendly. Many of the compounds used to keep the refrigerator space cold, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) or hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), have been proven to deplete the ozone layer resulting in long-term consequences. If these chemicals or other common refrigerants leach into ground water, populations that live around those water sources could be impacted. All refrigerator owners should take steps to ensure that they dispose of their old appliances responsibly to ensure that their used refrigerator does not lead to injury to the earth or its inhabitants.