According to the US Fire Administration there are an estimated 15,600 annual structure fires caused by clothes dryers. These fires cause an average of 15 deaths and 400 injuries per year. Eighty percent of those fires occur in residential buildings. One and two-family residences account for 81% of residential building dryer fires.
These statistics are a few years old, but I think we all get the picture. Dryer fires are dangerous and they appear to be on the rise. In order to prevent dryer fires we need to know what causes them. Why do clothes dryers start on fire?
The US Fire Administration goes on to say the leading factor contributing to ignition for dryer fires is operation deficiencies specifically failure to clean. Failure to clean accounts for 70% of dryer fire operational deficiency contributing factors.
The other leading factors contributing to dryer fires are mechanical failure, electrical failure, misuse of material or product, and clogged vents. Vents may become blocked from lint build-up or from small animals or birds nesting inside.
Some warning signs of a clogged vent are heavy clothes such as jeans or towels are taking longer to dry or if the clothes feel hotter at the end of the cycle. Disconnect, clean and inspect the dryer vent or hire a professional to clean and inspect it for you. It is recommended to clean and inspect vents every two years, or more often, depending on the complexity of the venting system.
I will leave you with some dryer safety tips.
- Never put synthetic materials (foam, rubber, or plastic) or cloth used to clean up flammable liquids in the dryer, even if it has been washed.
- Clean the lint and debris from in and around the dryer regularly
- Inspect your lint trap for tears before every use. Replace if torn
- Exhaust vent should be as short as possible with limited bends to provide adequate airflow
- Do not let dryer run if you are not home or if you are asleep
Dryer fires can be prevented with proper installation methods, a little maintenance and using the dryer for its intended purpose.
5 On Your Side Investigation: Dryer fires
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