Development of a Clothing Iron Safety Device

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Contact burns from clothing irons are a common injury seen in children. These injuries occur when an unattended iron is within reach of toddlers in its upright position. In a previous study, the authors have shown that the surface of an iron takes 90 minutes to cool below the epidermal injury threshold of 49°C. The authors have constructed an “iron shoe” to shield the iron surface from young hands during cooling. The device is intended to set the cooling iron in its down position providing additional protection. The device will insulate the iron surface to avoid the fire hazard when positioned in this manner. A silicone polymer was used to create an “iron shoe.” This polymer is stable at temperatures up to 370°C. The device included sidewalls to shield the edges from contact. Thermal analysis of the device was conducted using an inexpensive and expensive iron. Thermocouples were placed on the iron surface and below the iron shoe. The irons were heated to its maximum temperature, placed in the shoe and then unplugged. Temperature cooling curves were obtained from the thermocouples. The experiment was repeated by measuring the temperature difference between the iron edge and the shoe sidewalls. The surface of both expensive and inexpensive irons reached a maximum of 205°C. The temperature below the iron shoe reached a maximum of 49°C (inexpensive) and 60°C (expensive). The iron edge temperature reached a maximum of 188°C (inexpensive) and 154°C (expensive). The shoe sidewall temperature achieved a maximum of 52°C (inexpensive) and 49°C (expensive). Both expensive and inexpensive irons reach temperatures over 200°C. The silicone “iron shoe” effectively shielded the surface and edge of both irons and approached the epidermal injury threshold of 49°C. The temperature beneath the expensive iron did exceed 49°C, but because the intention of the device is to place the iron in the down position, the surface will be out of reach from children. This device prototype offers a solution to protect toddler’s hands from contact with cooling irons. Further design modifications will be tested to reduce the cost of the device without impairing its effectiveness.

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