Making microwave oven doors “child-resistant” to protect young children from severe scalds. Quinlan KP, Lowell G, Robinson M, Gottlieb L. Statement of Purpose: To protect young children from severe scald burns. Methods/Approach: Most severe child scalds in the US involve food and beverage preparation and consumption. Over the past 15 years we have published a series of studies supporting our advocacy for a change in microwave oven design to protect children. We found that 10% of burn unit admissions of young children involved the child opening the microwave oven door themselves and spilling the heated contents. We reported that children as young as 17 months can often open a microwave door. Our analysis of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimated that 7000 young children were treated in US emergency departments over the last decade for burns suffered when the child opened a microwave oven door themselves and spilled the heated contents. When our 2013 proposal to change the US Microwave Standard did not pass, we presented raised awareness by presenting at multiple national meetings, enlisted college engineering students to design “child-resistant” microwave doors, and created a short video to put a face to the statistics. In 2017, 3 authors (KQ, GL and MR) became active members of a National Task Group on the issue, and two of us (KQ and MR) became voting members on the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Standards Technical Panel (STP). The Association of Home Appliances Manufacturers wrote a new proposed change in the standard requiring 2 distinct actions (similar to the “push and turn” of pill bottles) to make it harder for a child to open a microwave oven door to protect them from this scald risk. Multiple concerns were addressed including those related to the impact on seniors. One author (KQ) also contacted voting members who appeared undecided to urge them to vote to change the standard. One voting member was unaware of the issue, but became supportive after these discussions. To pass, a proposed change required greater than two-thirds of ballots to be "Yes" votes. Results: On September 17, 2018, the UL STP voted 9 (yes) to 4 (no) to pass the measure which will require “child-resistant doors” for new microwave ovens. Three of the "yes" votes were microwave manufacturers. Conclusions: Research and advocacy work together to protect children. In the US, the standard that determines how microwave ovens are made was successfully changed. In the near future, microwaves will be required to have child-resistant doors. Significance and Contributions to Injury and Violence Prevention Science: Child scald risk will be reduced as microwaves with child-resistant doors replace current models.
Making microwave oven doors “child-resistant” to protect young children from severe scalds.
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Kyran Quinlan, Gina Lowell, Marla Robinson, Lawrence Gottlieb; Making microwave oven doors “child-resistant” to protect young children from severe scalds.. Pediatrics July 2020; 146 (1_MeetingAbstract): 512. 10.1542/peds.146.1MA6.512a
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