Looking At Potential Dangers Of Plug-In Air Fresheners

A popular home air freshener may be to blame for several fires. The Glade plug-in air freshener has already been recalled by SC Johnson. Seven On Your Side's Tappy Phillips takes a closer look at this and other potentially dangerous air fresheners.

It's a warning for consumers: The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the 'Glade Extra Outlet Scented Oil Air Fresheners' may cause fires, and now the commission is now looking into potential fire dangers from all air fresheners.

If you went shopping for the Glade plug-in air freshener that features an extra outlet, you probably found an empty shelf.

The voluntary recall of 2.5 million 'Glade Extra Outlet Scented Oil Air Fresheners' was announced Friday by the manufacturer, SC Johnson, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Both say the air fresheners have been recalled because the manufacturer found a loose connection inside the extra outlet, which could pose a fire hazard.

Ken Giles, CPSC: "The misassembly causes an electrical problem that could lead to a fire."

So far, the CPSC says the plug-in has caused no injuries but...

Giles: "Consumers should unplug it right away."

So just how safe are other plug-in air fresheners? The CPSC showed us scores of reports from consumers, chronicling fire hazards associated with plug-in air fresheners from various manufacturers. Doing our own searching, we found two instances where air fresheners are suspected in house fires.

Karen Myers, Fire Victim: "The flames were just... it was so hot. I've never seen anything like it."

Karen Myers is talking about a fire she discovered in her kitchen, where she had plugged in an air freshener.

Myers: "It just ignited and went up. And it was all the way going up to the ceiling."

Karen's air freshener was not a Glade, but a Wallflower, made by the White Barn Candle Company.

Myers: "I think we were very lucky... but everybody should know they're not going to be so lucky."

We spoke to another homeowner, who said he also used a 'Wallflower,' but wasn't as lucky as Myers. His house was destroyed by fire.

Richard Wolfson, Fire Investigator: "It was at the junction where the outlet and air freshener were located."

Rich Wolfson was hired by the homeowners insurance company to investigate this fire. He says he tested the wiring and looked at the fire pattern and concluded that the air freshener was the most likely cause.

Wolfson: "There was no evidence of failure of the outlet itself."

The CPSC says some fires attributed to air fresheners may be caused by faulty electrical wiring. But at least one fire investigator says it's better to be safe than sorry.

Wolfson: "If there is a problem with this, we want to save lives. This could be a potential hazard for homeowners."

Despite repeated calls, the White Barn Candle Company didn't respond to our request for a comment. If your air freshener has shown any signs of fire, including scorching or melting, you should report it to your local fire department and they will investigate. If you have a 'Glade Extra Outlet Scented Oil Air Freshener,' unplug it immediately and call their recall line at 800-571-0920, to get a refund or replacement.

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2002

 Monday, September 16, 2002
7Online.com Interactive
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