How to Prevent Common Cause of House Fires

Published 08/08 2014 02:41PM

Updated 08/08 2014 03:23PM

According to the FEMA website, clothes dryers cause around 2,900 house fires each year resulting in an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.

In Abilene, clothes dryers have been the culprit in at least one to two fires within the last 30 days, according to the Abilene Fire Department. On May 28, a dryer caught fire at the Highland Oak Apartments causing around $5,000 in damage, which could have been worse were it not for the quick response of firefighters.

The Abilene Fire Department has made the following suggestions to help prevent the damage and possible injury caused by home clothes dryer fires:
  • Keep the lint trap clean
  • Do not dry clothes that have been soaked in flammables
  • Make sure the dryer turns off and is not constantly running
  • Do not overload

For more details, the U.S. Fire Administration offers the following dryer do's and dont's:

Clothes dryer do’s:
  • Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.
  • Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged.
  • Clearn lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
  • Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.
  • Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow and dirt.
  • Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on.
  • Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.
  • Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.
  • Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are together and free of leaks.
  • Check regularly to make sure nests of small animals and insects are not blocking the outside vent.
  • Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected properly.
  • Read manufacturers’ instructions and warnings in use and care manuals that come with new dryers.
  • Keep the area around the clothes dryer free of items that can burn.
  • If you will be away from home for an extended time, unplug or disconnect the dryer

Clothes dryer don't's:
  • Don't use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
  • Don't overload the dryer.
  • Don't use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
  • Don't dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
  • Don't dry any item for which manufacturers' instructions state “dry away from heat.”
  • Don't dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers' instructions allow).
  • Don't dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
  • Don't leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.

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