Clothes Dryers Safety

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%

Washers Fires

  • 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.

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