Leaf blower explodes in Houston woman's hand

A consumer alert about a product you may have in your garage right now

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - A consumer alert about a product you may have in your garage right now.

A Houston woman called Local 2 after she said her electric leaf blower exploded in her hand.

Consumer expert Amy Davis asked the manufacturer what it is doing to find out what happened.

The electric Troy-Bilt leaf blower Eileen Strong was using was less than a year old. You can buy one at almost any home improvement store; but, Strong wants the manufacturer to take the blowers off store shelves until it knows what caused hers to explode.

Strong said the explosion sounded like a deer rifle.

"I actually thought I had been shot by a gun," Strong told Davis.

It blew a hole in the blower, sending pieces of hard plastic flying into her legs and arms. She had black and blue bruises and cuts all over her legs and arms. Strong went to the emergency room and got a tetanus shot; but, she worries it could be much worse if it happens to someone else.

"If that had blown out and hit anyone that's blowing with their kids outside, it could kill them," she said.

Strong said a Troy-Bilt representative offered to pay her medical bills and send her a new blower. But that's not what she is after.

"I wanted to know what caused this explosion," said Strong.

Troy-Bilt told Local 2 this was the first incident with this model leaf blower, the TB180B, but online we found two other accounts with older models.

In May 2008, a consumer posted "The Troy-Bilt leaf blower exploded. A triangular piece of plastic hit me in the face, leaving a triangular bruise." 

Six months later, another consumer wrote "I had an electric Troy-Bilt leaf blower explode in my hand. I needed five stitches and have had a constant ringing in the ears."

Troy-Bilt's assistant general counsel Lawrence G. Muscarella would not elaborate on those cases, but told Davis by phone, "We sell thousands of these products. Even one incident is not good."

After Local 2's call, the company said it will send an engineer to Strong's home to investigate.

Muscarella also emailed the following statement:

"Troy-Bilt values its customers and takes this matter very seriously. The safety of each customer is a primary concern. We have a thorough process for investigating consumer safety and product concerns raised by our customers and have made arrangements to inspect the unit. We are also working to achieve a fair and reasonable resolution with Mrs. Strong."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission had only one complaint similar to Strong's. That's important because if consumers don't report product safety hazards or injuries, regulators never know about possible defects.

You can file complaints and reports here.

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