We've all heard warnings about leaving small appliances plugged in 24/7,
especially if said appliances tend to get hot when operated... i.e. coffee
makers, toasters, curling irons, hair dryers, space heaters, etc.
I must admit that I have only mildly heeded these warnings, until recently.
We finally got to see a near disaster, first hand.
Unloading boxes of misc. for our recently purchased place in AZ, I found a
rather sophisticated looking hair dryer (Vidal Sassoon/1600 Watt), which
appeared to be clean and in good shape. It even had a circuit breaker built
into the power cord. However, there were no marks on the sliding switch,
indicating "off/high/low." Guessing, I slid the switch to the center,
expecting to find the "off" position. I plugged it in - nothing. Good. I
temporarily hung it on the towel rack, then turned around to see what else I
Within ten seconds, my wife screamed, and I turned around to see 6" high
flames coming out of the unit. I grabbed it and winged it out onto the
verandah. Fortunately, the black smoke residue left on the wall cleaned
up - no harm done.
Had I plugged it in, then left the room, I have no doubt that instead of
cleaning up smoke residue, we would have been fighting a fire. Had we left
the townhouse at the time, we probably would have returned to a destroyed
unit, which hopefully, wouldn't have taken others with it.
Pretty scary stuff. Even scarier is that the built-in circuit breaker
apparently didn't do anything. Later, I took the dryer apart, just to see
if I could determine why it failed. Ha! Diagnosis: Innards fried/melted
beyond recognition. The only conclusion I could make was that it was "well
Just thought I'd pass this episode along, for those of you who have never
considered unplugging small appliances, when not in use.