Consumer Product Safety

NITE Alert_63

January 13, 2005

Safety Alert - Accident caused by Electric Stoves

Fire accidents related to electric stoves, which are installed in sites such as studio apartments, occur frequently. Most of these accidents are caused when the switches of normally unused stoves are unintentionally turned on while combustible materials have been left on them.
As a preventive measure against similar accidents, the Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law was revised in 1990 to stipulate that electric stoves should be designed to prevent unintentional operation of the switch. Also in 1990, electric stove manufacturers started voluntary campaigns to promote awareness among housing managers concerning products manufactured before the revision of the law which pose a fire risk. They have posted alerts on brochures and web pages, and provided retrofitting services at a cost to replace switches with new switches that cannot be operated unintentionally.
However, NITE has already received 15 accident reports this year (FY2004) related to electric stoves manufactured before the law revision. In response to the situation, in June 2004, the “Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association – Home Electrical Division" and the “Japan Association of Kitchen & Bath" put together new brochures and distributed them to 3,000 member companies of the Association of Rental Properties Management. In September 2004, an announcement was placed in the National Rental Properties Newspaper to alert consumers to the hazard, and a free retrofitting campaign was started.
In view of the situation, NITE has issued this alert as a preventive measure; to provide information on accident circumstances and draw consumer attention to this matter.

1. Relevant products

The accidents are caused by built-in type electric stoves with a protruded switch knob, as shown in the following pictures.

Relevant product

Types of switch used on relevant electric stoves


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2.Cause of accident

Most of the electric stoves are built-in types, which are installed beside the mini kitchen sinks such as those installed in studio type apartments. The stoves were not in daily use in most cases, and the apartment residents put objects such as a portable gas burners, plastic kitchen products and magazines, etc, on top of the electric stoves. Accidents occurred when a part of the body or an object, such as a purse, came into contact with the switch knob when passing by the electric stove, switching the stove on without the user realizing it.
It is presumed that the following factors coincided to cause accidents.

  1. (1)The electric stove may turn “ON" when a part of the body or objects touch the switch knob. Manufacturers and concerned industrial associations have posted alerts in brochures and on web pages, and have also provided free replacement switch parts. However, the products continued to be installed and used without replacing the switch control units because information of the risk and information concerning the need for replacement and the risk did not reach all rental property managers and residents.
  2. (2)As the kitchens where the electric stoves are installed are generally small and without sufficient walk space, residents can switch on the stoves that have not been retrofitted without noticing, just by coming into contact with the switch.
  3. (3)A portable gas burner was placed on top of the electric stove.
  4. (4)The electric stove tops were used as places to store objects, including combustible items.

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3.Safety precautions

Please pay attention to the following in order to prevent accidents.

  1. 1)Contact manufacturers or concerned industrial associations immediately for replacement of protruded switch knobs with safety switch controlling units.
  2. 2)Do not use portable gas burners or other electrical appliances on top of electric stoves.
  3. 3)Do not place any inflammable items such as kitchen accessories, newspapers and magazines, etc, on or around electric stoves.
  4. 4)Turn off the main power supply when the electric stove is not in use on a daily basis.

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4.Contacts for manufacturers and industrial associations

The following industrial associations are issuing an alert concerning the safe use of electric stoves on these web pages (http://www.jema-net.or.jp/Japanese/kaden/ka-h.htm) (http://www.kitchen-bath.jp/). In addition, they are also providing FREE replacement protruded switch controlling units.

(Industrial associations)

The Japan Electrical Manufacturers and Association (Home Electrical Division)
The Association of Kitchen & Bath

Fore more information;
National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE)
Product Safety Technology Center, Product Safety Investigation Division

Contact us

 Risk Analysis and Public Relations Division  Product Safety Technology Center  National Institute of Technology and Evaluation
Phone number:+81-6-6612-2066
Fax number:+81-6-6612-1617
Address:1-22-16, Nankokita, Suminoe-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 559-0034 Japan MAP