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Preventing Dryer Fires
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
The clothes dryer has become a staple of almost every home or apartment complex in the country, an indispensible part of our lives when it comes to keeping clothes cleaned and ready to wear. But there is one concern to be aware of – the possibility of your clothes dryer triggering a house fire.
Many people have inadvertently burned our hand or arm while removing clothes from a hot dryer, so it isn’t a stretch to conclude that anything that can heat up to such a degree may also be fully capable of triggering a fire. Add to that the fact that fabric and lint are tossing around inside this superheated unit, and you end up wondering why we don’t hear about dryer-related fires more often.
In fact, there are over 15,000 dryer-related fires in the US every year, responsible for an average of 10 deaths, 300 injuries, and $84 million in damages annually.
Easy Dryer Fire Prevention
The good news is that dryer fires can be avoided with little or no interruption to your daily routine. Be sure to clean the lint traps in your dryer between loads, and that alone will go a long way towards preventing fire problems. A saturated lint trap can easily catch fire if left unattended for too long.
In addition, look behind the dryer where lint can become trapped (this is something that most of us do not do). The less lint trapped in your dryer, the better off you will be.
Know what is on your clothing before putting it in your dryer. If there is a chance that the clothing item contains flammable materials such as alcohol, gasoline, spot removers, or cleaning solvents, do not risk exposing them to the high temperatures found in many drying cycles. Many flammable substances generate vapors that could not only cause a fire, but trigger an explosion.
Read the owners’ manual. The manufacturer has put together a list of warnings for your benefit. Make yourself aware of them. Warning markings are also located on the interior of the dryer door. Take a few seconds and familiarize yourself with them.
Have a Professional Inspection
Have the interior of the dryer as well as the venting system professionally cleaned by a qualified service technician every year or so. You will know it is time for such maintenance when you start noticing longer than average drying times. This means that the filters and vents are becoming clogged and not doing their job effectively.
Plastic or vinyl hoses are also fire hazards and should be replaced by heavy duty flexible metal hoses.
Fortunately, improvements in industry standards and manufacturers’ quality control have helped cut down the number of occurrences of dryer-related fires by about 35% since the late 1970s. Providing proper service and maintenance of your dryer can significantly cut down on the chances for an unexpected blaze.
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