Clothes dryers are an everyday household item that can pose a serious
risk of fire if they are not properly maintained. A clothes dryer
operates by blowing hot air through a revolving drum. As clothes are
dried, lint is produced as water is removed. Lint accumulation, in the
dryer and in the dryer vent, can reduce airflow, and create a highly
flammable fuel source.
To increase safety when using a clothes dryer, we recommend the following tips:
Remove lint from traps, vents, and surrounding areas
Ensure proper venting of the dryer to the outside
Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance and cleaning
Never put synthetic materials such as rubber, plastic, foam, or pieces of cloth that have been used to sponge up flammable liquids in the dryer, even if previously washed
Clean the lint out of the exhaust pipe and the rear of the dryer regularly
Inspect your lint filter for rips each time you use it. If you see any rips, replace immediately
The exhaust pipe should be as short as possible and have limited bends to allow for adequate airflow
Dryer Fires Do Damage In a report
released by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) announced the statistics
regarding residential building clothes dryer fires. Between the years
2002-2004, an annual average of 12,700 clothes dryer fires occurred in
residential buildings. These fires were responsible for an estimated 15
civilian fire deaths, 300 civilian fire injuries, and $88 million in
property loss each year.
How Dryer Fires Occur
In residential buildings, operational deficiency, including "failure to clean", was the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires, followed by mechanical malfunction and electrical failure. Approximately 62% of clothes dryer fires were confined to the object of fire origin while about 27% were confined to the room of origin.
The report, Clothes Dryer Fires in Residential Buildings, was developed by the USFA's National Fire Data Center as part of its Topical Fire Research Series and is based on data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) for 2002-2004. The report examines the characteristics of clothes dryer fires and provides recommendations for clothes dryer fire safety.
A copy of the topical report can be downloaded online.