“Between 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated
15,970 home fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year.
These fires resulted in annual losses estimated at 13 deaths, 440 injuries,
and $238 million in property damage,” according to the
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Of the above fires, clothes dryers accounted for a whopping 92% of them,
while washing machines only accounted for 4%, according to the NFPA. And
for the cause? The NFPA says the leading factor that contributed to these
dryer fires being ignited was the consumer’s failure to clean the
dryer. Meanwhile, the leading factors in washing machine fires were electrical
or mechanical malfunctions.
“Fires involving clothes dryers usually started with the ignition
of something that was being dried or was a byproduct (such as lint) of
drying,” stated the NFPA. Want to learn more? Read the NFPA’s
report on clothes dryers and washing machines causing home fires.
Prevention Tips for Consumers
As electrical contractors, we know how dangerous electrical appliances
can be and how they can pose fire hazards. Since dryers involve electricity,
power cords, and wall outlets, we understand how they can be a cause of
deadly home fires. To help our readers be safe, we turned to
Consumer Reports to share tips on preventing dryer fires and here is what CR had to say:
- Clean the lint filter screen after every load, not just once a week or
once a month. “This helps prevent a fire, and it also helps your
laundry dry faster,” says Richard Handel, a test engineer at CR.
- If your dryer has a plastic or foil accordion-style duct that connects
the dryer to the vent, CR says to replace it. When they sag, lint can
build up, trapping the lint in the ridges.
- If your dryer starts taking longer to dry loads, take that as a sign that
there could be a blockage. Next time you’re drying a load, go outside
of the house and look at the vent. If you can’t see or feel exhaust
air, this means the exhaust duct or vent could be blocked with lint and
needs to be cleaned.
- If you wash clothing with gas, cleaning agents, or another flammable substance,
be aware that it could be a fire hazard. CR recommends washing them more
than once to reduce the volatile chemicals, then hang dry. If you insist
on using the dryer, use the lowest heat setting, the one that ends with
a cool-down period.
Note: If you ever have a dryer fire on your hands, do not open the dryer door
because doing so would give it additional oxygen. Remember, fire needs
oxygen to keep going, and you don’t want that!
If you need a residential
electrical contractor, we invite you to contact Lightning Bug Electric today!