Prevent Dryer from Starting Fire
by LT. Larry Wilson
Fire Prevention Bureau
Green Bay Fire Department
Clothes dryers can be a fire hazard if not maintained. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home clothes dryers were among the most common types of equipment involved in home fires.
From 1994 through 1998, they were involved in an average of 14,800 home fires with 16 deaths, 309 injuries and millions of dollars in property damage each year.
Lack of proper maintenance was the No. 1 cause of dryer started fires. Dryer lint is one of the most combustible substances and usually builds up in the vent hose leading out of the dryer.
The most commonly used vent is made of ribbed plastic, which not only traps the lint but also burns very well.
We will usually find a burn pattern leading from the back of the appliance up into the floor joists to the vent hole.
To avoid such a fire, the fire protection association advises:
* Clean the lint filter before or after each use and also wipe away any lint that accumulates around the drum.
* Make sure the dryer is plugged into an outlet suitable for that appliance
* Do not run the dryer without the lint filter in place.
* Do not leave the dryer running when you leave the house or while you are sleeping. If a fire should occur it will not be noticed for some time.
* Make sure that the vent hose is cleaned regularly - we recommend using rigid aluminum piping.
* Keep combustibles such as clothing and boxes away from the dryer.
* Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional. Gas dryers should be periodically inspected for leaks in the pipe or connections.
While appliances become more efficient with many safeguards in place, they still need to be maintained in order to provide many years of dependable, safe operation.