According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 home fires originate in the clothes dryer, causing $35 million in property loss,100 injuries and 5 deaths each year. These fires typically occur in the fall and winter months and tend to peak in January.
The chief cause of home dryer fires is neglecting to clean them properly. Fires can happen when your dryer or exhaust duct fills up with lint. This lint obstructs the air flow in the dryer which in turn causes heat to build up, sometimes causing a fire.
The following are some tips on clothes dryer fire safety published by the U.S. Fire Administration:
Proper Care and Maintenance of Your Dryer
- It is best to have your dryer installed by a professional to insure that your dryer is connected properly; and that the correct outlet and electrical plug is used.
- Before using your dryer, read the manufacturers instructions and care manuals.
- Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Also, periodically clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. Every six months, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush to make sure that it doesn’t get clogged.
- Every three months, clean lint out of the vent pipe.
- If you dryer is taking longer than usual for your clothes to dry, have it inspected and cleaned by a professional.
- Take a look at the venting system behind the dryer to make sure it is not damaged or restricted; make sure outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on; shield outdoor wall dampers with a covering to keep out the elements.
- For the most safety, replace venting material with rigid metal ducting.
- Unplug the dryer if you are away from home for an extended period.
Avoid Improper Use of Your Dryer
- Don’t use a clothes dryer with a lint filter that doesn’t fit or is clogged or damaged.
- Never overload your dryer.
- Don’t cover the wall damper with a cloth or wire screen. This can cause the vent to be clogged with lint.
- Don’t attempt to dry anything that contains foam, rubber or plastic. A good example is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
- If a manufacturer’s instructions say “dry away from heat”, do not place in dryer.
- Do not dry anything that has alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline or other flammable materials on it. Dry these items away from heat in a ventilated area.
- Do not run the dryer if you are away from home or when you go to bed.
In Summary, overheated clothes dryers can cause fires! Keep screens, ducts and vents lint-free. Learn more at https://usfa.fema.gov
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