Electric Iron Safety
Ironing your clothing with an electric iron can be a bit risky if you aren't careful. Take a few precautions to avoid accidental burns from an iron.
The professional crisp, clean appearance of freshly ironed clothing shouldn't come at a personal price. Use safety precautions to safely use an electric iron to avoid burns. A 2013 study showed that both children and adults have suffered from accidental burns and preventable injuries from electric irons. Since an electric iron has to be hot to work, there is no way to prevent every burn, but proper use and care can remove much of the danger of using an electric iron in your home.
Connection to Outlets
Electric irons are high-wattage devices, which means they draw a lot of power from the circuit. To avoid overloading it, don't operate any other high-wattage devices on the same circuit as the iron. If you use an extension cord, make sure that it's rated for the same, or higher, amperage as the iron.
Find amperage information 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.
Always use an electric iron with an ironing board. Unless you own an ironing board that has been labeled otherwise, the materials used in most ironing boards are flame-retardant and thus made with safety in mind. Never attempt to iron or stream fabrics while you or someone else is wearing the clothing. Never iron clothing on the floor or bed, as on these surfaces, you won't have a safe place to rest the iron. Do not attempt to use an iron for any purpose other than for ironing clothes.
Never leave the iron's electrical cord hanging over a heavily trafficked area. The cord presents a trip hazard, and the hot iron could land on someone if the cord is pulled. If the cord is damaged in any way, don't use the iron as it could cause an electric shock. Keep the cord away from hot surfaces at all time. Never yank on the cord to unplug an iron; always grasp the plug and pull it out.
Iron and Water
Do not immerse an iron in water because of the 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 hot water may still be in the reservoir.
Just like the stove, oven or fireplace, the household iron should fall under the "do not touch" rules of the home. Young children need to be taught the iron is not a toy and should not be touched. An iron caddy (also known as an iron guard) can be used to keep a hot iron off the ironing board and away from children. Mount the caddy high enough that your children cannot reach it.
Remember to remove and properly store both the board and iron after your ironing chores are complete to avoid their from either falling or being knocked over by little hands.
Never use an iron away from an ironing board as young children are less likely to be able to reach the iron when it's on a board. Always keep your eye on your children when you're 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 help protect users. 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 forces it to turn itself off after a set amount of time. Irons with automatic shut-offs are ideal if you have young children around.
Advancements in Safety
A 2008 study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine shows that a clothing iron safety device has been conceived to prevent young children from touching the hot surface of the iron. The study reports that the addition of a "safety shoe" on the iron made of silicone rubber will prevent accidental burns. The shoe straps to the iron with a Velcro strap. While this device is still in development, newer irons have safety features to prevent fires. Some electric irons come with an alert system that makes a sound if the iron is left idle for a certain amount of time. Newer irons also have nonstick plates that prevent clothes from catching on fire or burning. Pair these advancements with ironing boards made with flame-retardant materials and a careful eye to help prevent accidents in the home.
Shawn McClain has spent over 15 years as a journalist covering technology, business, culture and the arts. He has published numerous articles in both national and local publications, and online at various websites. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in journalism at Clarion University.