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Woman Warns Of Exploding Pressure Cooker After Suffering Severe Burns

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One of the most popular pressure cookers on the market has left more than a dozen people badly injured. CBS4's David Sutta reports on what you need to know.

Beth Morales is still shaken by what happened just a few months ago in her kitchen.

"It was painful, frightful. I relive it. I still sometimes see it happening again and again," she says.

She was helping her husband make a stew, using a pressure cooker to speed up the process.

"I released the steam valve twice to make sure all the steam was out. It has a lock mechanism on the lid that's not supposed to allow you to turn it if the pressure is still in there," she said. "And it did allow me to turn it, so I figured it was safe to open."

When she pulled back the lid, the boiling hot contents spewed out.

"Like a volcano erupting. More like, if you sat on top of a volcano and you got up and it was mad at you and it squirted everything at you. It was kinda like that," she recalled. "I just started screaming until one of my children came down and said, 'Why are you screaming like that?' And I said, 'Just take everything off me. Take my clothes off, throw ice on me. Ice packs. I need ice packs.'"

The photos tell what happened, second-degree burns on her hands, arms and chest.  Some of the images are too graphic to put on television.

"I look at myself in the mirror and I cry because I'm not like I used to be anymore," Morales told Sutta.

Morales will live with the scars from the incident for life.

She still owns the pressure cooker. On her kitchen counter she pointed out how it should work.

"This is where it niche's in to lock," she said.

Looking back on the incident she wondered did she do something wrong.

"I let the steam chamber out. I mean there's really nothing else I could have done," Morales said.

The pots safety mechanism should have prevented her from being able to open it.

"Just in case you haven't done this right, this shouldn't open. This shouldn't allow you to open it at all," she explained.

Upset, she searched online and discovered she is not alone.

CBS4 first reported on an incident with the Tristar Power Pressure Cooker XL two years ago.

The popular appliance promised convenience, affordability and safety.

In two years though, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has registered pages of complaints – victims just like Morales badly burned when the product simply explodes.

Attorney Jason Turchin is very familiar with the issue.

"We don't know why this product is still on the market.  After two years and having victim after victim, we don't know why there hasn't been a recalled," he told CBS4.

The South Florida attorney has sued Tristar on behalf of several victims. He now represents Morales as well.

"This product is on TV, it's in Kohl's and Bed Bath and Beyond, J.C. Penney.  It's one of the most widely used and widely marketed pressure cookers that's out there today.  And there may be thousands and thousands of users who don't know about this potential danger," he said.

Despite Turchin's lawsuits, the company has not acknowledged there may be a problem.

"The company hasn't given us answers yet. They have tried to resolve a couple of the claims so far but to date they haven't given us any answers as to why this keeps happening," Turchin said.

The manufacturer, Tristar Products, did not return our request for comment on this story.

Morales has filed suit in hopes of preventing more injuries.

"It's time that this manufacturer and others that make this product say it's time to revamp this or take it off the line.  It's just injuring people," Morales said.

After her awful experience, Morales vows to never use a pressure cooker again.

Turchin suggests cooks think twice before using the appliance.

"Until we know what the defect is and why there are so many victims coming forward with injuries, I'd be very cautious if I owned one… to use it," he said.

If you think you may own one of these pressure cookers, you may want to go see Jason Turchin's website regarding the issue.

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