In 2006, an estimated 17,700 reported U.S. non-confined or confined home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines (including combination washer/dryers) resulted in an estimated: 15 civilian deaths, 360 civilian injuries and $194 million in direct property damage.
Leading Items First Ignited in Non-Confined Fires Involving Clothes Washer or Clothes Dryer, 2003-2006
Dryer Fires –
- Clothing – 30%
- Dust, Fiber, or Lint -27%
- Unclassified soft goods or clothing – 10%
- Wire or cable insulation – 29%
- Appliance housing or casing – 21%
- Drive or other belt -18%
- Most (81%) non-confined home structure fires involving washers or dryers began in a laundry room or area.
- Most of these home fires involve clothes dryers (92% in 2003-2006).
- The risk of fire is slightly higher for gas-fueled clothes dryers than for electric-powered clothes dryers.
- The leading cause (29% of fires) of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean.
Nine Safety Tips
- Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
- Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
- Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
- Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
- Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
- Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
- Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
- Follow the manufacturers operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
- Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.