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"Recall Alerts"

01-05-2007

Published by:
Peter A. Lynch, Esq.
of Cozen O'Connor
palynch@cozen.com
http://www.cozen.com

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:      This weekly newsletter covers:

  1. Family Dollar Stores Recalls Oscillating Ceramic Heater for Fire Hazard
  2. DEWALT Recalls Portable Generators Due to Electric Shock Hazard
  3. Pentair Water Pool and Spa Inc. Recalls Gas Pool Heaters for Carbon Monoxide Hazard
  4. New Danger Label Required on All Portable Generators


(1) FAMILY DOLLAR STORES RECALLS OSCILLATING CERAMIC HEATER FOR FIRE HAZARD

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Oscillating Ceramic Heaters

Units: About 35,000 (17,000 with consumers)

Importer: Family Dollar Stores, of Charlotte, N.C.

Hazard: The heaters can overheat and smoke, which could pose a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Family Dollar has received three reports of the heaters overheating or smoking. There are no reports of fires and two reports of minor property damage.

Description: The recalled heater is a 1500 watt oscillating ceramic heater. The heater has a white plastic housing with the name "Heat-Wave" in black on its top. A label on the product contains the control number "ETL 3090262."

Sold at: Family Dollar stores nationwide from September 2006 through November 2006 for about $20.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the heaters and return them to a Family Dollar store for a full refund.

Customer Contact: For additional information, contact Family Dollar at (800) 547-0359 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.familydollar.com


(2) DEWALT RECALLS PORTABLE GENERATORS DUE TO ELECTRIC SHOCK HAZARD

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: DEWALT DG2900 Portable Generators

Units: About 13,000

Manufacturer: DEWALT Industrial Tool Co., of Towson, Md.

Hazard: A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) installed on the generator could fail to operate properly, posing a risk of electric shock to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: No incidents or injuries have been reported.

Description: The recall involves DEWALT DG2900 2900 watt gasoline-powered generators with date codes 200150 through 200635. The generators are black and yellow. “DEWALT” and “DG2900” are printed on the generator. The date code is stamped on the right side of the unit on the black plastic covering the rear of the control panel. Units with an “R” stamped on the name plate are not affected by this recall.

Sold by: Major home center and hardware stores nationwide from December 2001 through November 2006 for between $900 and $1,000.

Manufactured in: Japan

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the generators immediately and contact DEWALT to arrange for a free inspection and, if necessary, free repair.

Customer Contact: For more information, contact DEWALT toll-free at (888) 742-9108 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.DEWALT.com


(3) PENTAIR WATER POOL AND SPA INC. RECALLS GAS POOL HEATERS FOR CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARD

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: MiniMax® NT STD Gas Pool Heaters

Units: About 105,000

Manufacturer: Water Pool and Spa Inc., of Moorpark, Calif.

Hazard: These pool heaters can emit excessive carbon monoxide (CO), posing a risk of CO poisoning in the event of a vent leak in an indoor installation.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported.

Description: The recall involves Pentair MiniMax® NT STD Gas Pool Heaters installed indoors. They have BTU ratings between 200,000 and 400,000, and use either natural gas or propane. The model number is located on the rating plate on the inner front panel of the heater. The following model numbers are included:

460427 through 460430
460439 through 460450
460531 through 460538
460543 through 460566

The heater identification number is located on the rating plate on the inner panel of the heater, which will show “NT” and “STD” in the third and fourth blocks of the number. The recall includes units with serial numbers 0606002 and lower. The recall also includes units without serial numbers. If the unit has a serial number, it is written on the data plate on the heater, which is located on the inner front door of the heater. Units with serial number 0606003 and higher are not included in this recall. MiniMax® NT Low NOx and MiniMax® NT TSI model pool heaters are not included in this recall.

Sold through: Pool heater distributors and pool service equipment dealers nationwide from April 2002 through May 2006 for between $2,000 and $3,850 depending on the model number.

Assembled in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should stop using these gas pool heaters installed indoors immediately, and contact the firm to determine if their heater is included in the recall. If it is, Pentair will provide a free inspection, and repair of the heater if necessary.

Customer Contact: For more information, contact Pentair toll-free at (866)-761-5272 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, or go to their Web site at www.pentairpool.com


(4) NEW DANGER LABEL REQUIRED ON ALL PORTABLE GENERATORS

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously (2-0) today to require manufacturers of portable generators to warn consumers of carbon monoxide (CO) hazards through a new “Danger” label. The label states that, “Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES.” Manufacturers will be required to place the “Danger” label on all new generators and the generators’ packaging. The label warns consumers that a generator’s exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a poison that cannot be seen and has no odor, and that generators should never be used inside homes or garages, even if doors and windows are open.

The death toll from CO associated with generators has been steadily rising in recent years. At least 64 people died in 2005 from generator-related CO poisoning. Many of the deaths occurred after hurricanes and major storms. CPSC staff is aware through police, medical examiner and news reports of at least 32 CO deaths related to portable generators from October 1 through December 31, 2006.

“These deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable,” said Acting CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord. “The warning labels are meant to stop consumers before they make what could be a fatal mistake.”

Generators should be used outdoors only, far from windows, doors and vents. The CO produced by one generator is equal to the CO produced by hundreds of running cars. It can incapacitate and kill consumers within minutes.

The new “Danger” label requirements for generators manufactured or imported will take effect 120 days after the regulation is published in the Federal Register.

In a separate action last month, the Commission began rulemaking to address safety hazards with generators by approving an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR). The Commission directed staff to investigate various strategies to reduce consumers’ exposure to CO and to enable and encourage them to use generators outdoors only. Those strategies include generator engines with substantially reduced CO emissions, interlocking or automatic shutoff devices, weatherization requirements, theft deterrence and noise reduction.

Generator On-Product Label

Generator On-Package Label

STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE NANCY A. NORD
ACTING CHAIRMAN
U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION

BALLOT VOTE (FINAL RULE FOR LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR PORTABLE GENERATORS)

January 4, 2007

The demand for portable generators has increased greatly in recent years. So too have the number of people who have been killed or sickened by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the improper use of those generators. Portable generators are extremely useful machines, particularly after the loss of electricity in the wake of a storm or other unforeseen circumstance. However, the amount of CO emitted from a portable generator can be several hundred times that released by a modern car’s exhaust and can kill consumers in a very short period of time. Consumers need to be adequately warned of the hazards posed by the improper use of a portable generator.

Today I am voting to promulgate a final rule that requires all portable generators sold in the United States to bear an explicit warning label that will better advise consumers about the very real danger of CO poisoning posed by the use of a portable generator in or near a home. The final rule requires labeling that uses explicit language that warns, “Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES,” and “NEVER use inside a home or garage, EVEN IF doors and windows are open,” as well as other pertinent safety warnings. Providing this safety information will convey to consumers the CO hazard associated with generators and instructions on how to avoid the hazard. The deaths resulting from CO poisoning from improper portable generator use are preventable, and this warning label is an important step towards eliminating these tragic, but avoidable, deaths in the future.

STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE THOMAS H. MOORE ON THE FINAL RULE REGARDING LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR PORTABLE GENERATORS

January 4, 2007

I am voting today to issue a final rule for labeling requirements for portable generators. This vote today concludes a process that involved excellent Commission staff work and is an important beginning step toward improvements in the safe use and operation of portable generators.

The Commission staff concluded several years ago that the warning labels on portable generators were not as clear or as strong as they could be about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning related to operating portable generators in or near living spaces. Staff worked in the voluntary standards arena, through Underwriters Laboratories (UL), to make changes to the labeling requirements, as well as to the operation of the generators themselves. When this process stalled, UL took it upon itself to impose new labeling requirements for generators bearing the UL certification mark. But this is not a consensus standard and it is unclear how many currently marketed generators bear the new UL warning label.

The Commission’s broader and more comprehensive review of the existing portable generator safety measures could take a considerable amount of time to reach a conclusion. There remain inconsistencies in generator operations which the label cannot cure, such as, the inability to use generators in the very circumstances—wet conditions—in which they are most likely to be needed, and instructions to use a short extension cord, which can have the effect of placing the generator too close to the house for safe operation. But while we are working on the other issues relating to generator safety, we should do what we can to try to stem the rising tide of deaths from portable generators. Therefore, I think that today’s action to mandate improved warning labeling could be one important step in enhancing generator safety.

As a matter of course, we will take another look at the labeling of generators in the context of the broader generator safety rulemaking. If fundamental changes are proposed to the generators themselves, it could certainly have an impact on future generator labeling requirements.

DISCLAIMER: This column is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information contained in this update is general in nature. Individual situations of readers may not fit the general educational information described in the column. Readers are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney to evaluate individual situations and provide legal advice. Any reliance on the information contained herein is taken at the reader's own risk and should not be considered legal advice.

Mr. Lynch can be reached at Cozen and O'Connor, 501 West Broadway, Suite 1610, San Diego, California 92101, 800-782-3366 (voice), 619-234-7831 (fax), palynch@cozen.com (e-mail), http://www.cozen.com. Follow us on Twitter at @firesandrain.

Please direct comments, suggestions, stories, and other items to the author by e-mail at palynch@cozen.com

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