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How to Prevent Dryer Fires
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By Member Joe Birch
January 3, 2022

4 simple tips from Consumer Reports' experts to minimize risks

Every year, firefighters across the country respond to around 13,820 home fires caused by clothes dryers, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

About 27 percent of these fires is caused by an accumulation of lint, which means that not cleaning out your dryer vent can set you up for a dangerous situation that’s far more serious than the drop in performance caused by constricting a dryer’s ductwork.

Dryer fires are responsible for seven deaths, 344 civilian injuries, and $233 million in property damage annually, says Marty Ahrens, a spokesperson for the NFPA.

Given these numbers, below, are four simple best practices to improve safety in the laundry room.


1. Clean the Lint Filter
Not once a month, or even once a week: “Clean the lint from the dryer’s lint screen after every load,” says Richard Handel, the test engineer who oversees CR’s laundry appliance lab. “This helps prevent a fire, and it also helps your laundry dry faster.”


2. Replace Accordion-Style Ducts
Generally, dryers are equipped with a 4-inch vent in the back, which homeowners or installers connect to the exterior vent with a duct. But not all ducts will do.

If you see a plastic or foil accordion-style duct connecting your appliance to the vent, it’s a good idea to replace it. These are risky because they can sag, allowing lint to build up at low points and trapping lint in their ridges.


3. Clean the Dryer Duct Annually (at Least)
If you notice that your dryer takes longer to dry laundry than it used to, that’s a clue that there may be a blockage in the dryer vent system. When you’re drying a load, go outside and look at the vent. Do you see or feel exhaust air? If not, the vent or exhaust duct may be blocked with lint.


4. Handle Chemical Stains With Care
Clothes stained with gas, cooking oil, cleaning agents, or other flammable chemicals or substances need special care. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends washing such stained clothing more than once to minimize volatile chemicals, then hanging to dry.


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Franklin Park Volunteer Fire Company #1, Station 158
2360 Rochester Road
Sewickley, PA 15143
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