It’s easy to see that appliances are becoming more technologically advanced – seemingly by the minute! But you may not be aware of the equally sophisticated safety testing processes that occur behind the scenes to help ensure that innovative new features don’t create new safety and/or security issues.

Manufacturers work closely with companies like UL to check products for safety hazards, including fire and electrical shock, using rigorous science-based testing processes. And appliances that are connected to the internet also need to be protected against the threat of cyberattacks.

Understanding what manufacturers and certification companies like UL do, along with your own part, will help you stay appliance safe.

Refrigerators and TVs

When TVs first started making their way into homes, only the wealthy could afford the small black and white sets. Over the years, these appliances transformed into today’s modern smart HDTVs, found in more than half of today’s American homes.

Advances have also brought us smart refrigerators that can monitor food inventory and order groceries.

These connected appliances save us time and make tasks easier, but malicious hackers may target them. This is why UL created a Cybersecurity Assurance Program (CAP), which provides requirements manufacturers can use to establish a baseline of protection against vulnerabilities and software weaknesses.

Your part: When using a connected device, the Online Trust Alliance recommends that you change its default password, keep it updated with new software releases/patches and ensure your router uses WPA2 secure encryption.

Washers and Dryers

Just like with TVs and fridges, washers and dryers have evolved over time. Today, many feature child locks on doors and switch panels to improve safety. Most can be programmed to start immediately or with delay and for various types of loads like no heat drying, heavy-duty wash or eco-cycle, making them more efficient and convenient.

But even with all these advances, along with rigorous testing, clothes dryers remain a leading home fire cause, starting an average of 15,970 home fires a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The biggest igniters include dust, fiber or lint left in the device or lint trap; clothing itself; or the machine’s wires/cable insulation, etc. Washers have their own home-safety risks, as they can cause water leakage and/or flooding if overloaded or if hoses burst.

Your part: To increase safety, use your washers and dryers properly. Clean the dryer lint trap after every use and inspect and clean exhaust vents annually. Don’t wash or dry clothes soaked in flammables like gasoline, paint thinner or cooking oil. Be sure you don’t overload your washer or dryer.

Ovens/Stoves and Microwaves

Over the years, ovens and stoves have evolved from wood-burning cast iron to many kinds, including stainless steel, glass-top and convection. Today they also boast numerous safety features, like auto lock, auto-shut off or time-controlled shut off, and like all products certified for safety, undergo numerous tests.

Microwaves, a faster-cooking appliance, reside in most Americans’ kitchens. These appliances go through rigorous testing specifically to help ensure they meet standards around radiation leaks, overheating, fires, etc.

Your part: Be sure to use ovens/stoves properly. Never leave the kitchen unattended for long periods of time when cooking. When cooking on the stove, turn pot handles inward to avoid any spills or accidents. Microwaves require special care: Don’t put metal, including aluminum foil, in them, and be cautious as microwaved food gets especially hot and can cause mouth burns.

All and all – thanks to technological advances, rigorous testing and hard-won certifications – appliances deliver more safety and convenience than ever. Take up your part to keep them even safer.