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Thomas Claburn
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Petzl Headlamp Singes Head

Petzl America, in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), on Thursday issued a safety alert for its "MYO" and "MYO Belt" headlamps.

Petzl America, in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), on Thursday issued a safety alert for its "MYO" and "MYO Belt" headlamps.The warning advises consumers not to use rechargeable batteries with the headlamps.

"If the headlamp is used with rechargeable batteries, the cable connecting the battery pack to the lamp can spark, melt, or catch fire," the warning says. "This poses a burn hazard to consumers."

Petzl says it has received 13 reports of sparking and/or melting, with two reports of flames. One customer received a minor burn on the hand; the other received singed hair.

The company has shipped about 322,000 units. The CPSC site has details about the affected model numbers.

In recent years, the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used to power laptops, cell phones, and other devices have been recalled because of safety concerns. Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Nokia, and Sony have all issued battery recalls in the past several years.

In 2007, an Apple iPod Nano owner from Douglasville, Ga., claimed that his iPod Nano caught fire in his pocket.

In 2004, a California teen was injured after her Kyocera phone battery caught fire.

In the case of Petzl's headlamps, the issue appears to be wiring that can't handle the current from rechargeable batteries.

According to the CPSC, deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $800 billion annually. Yes, that's really what the CPSC estimates.

To put that figure into perspective, the cost of the Iraq war to date is estimated to be about $555 billion. And the cost of economic and property damage arising from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States has been estimated to be about $120 billion.

It's time for a war on bad engineering.

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