Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Tonya Papanikolas ReportingWhen you think about preparing for a fire, you might have thought of fire escape routes and smoke alarms, but have you ever thought of cleaning your clothes dryer? A new report by the U.S. Fire Administration shows firefighters respond to more than 15,000 dryer fires a year, and most can be prevented.
When you throw your clothes in the dryer, you probably don't think twice about safety, but firefighters say you should.
Cpt. Jay Torgersen, Unified Fire Authority: "We go on fires related to dryers quite frequently."
Last month a fire started in the clothes dryer of the Draper Rehab and Care Center. Workers were drying kitchen rags that had mopped up grease.
Dennis McKone, Salt Lake City Fire Dept: "Anything that's got any flammable liquids, polishes, oils or anything like that to it, you don't put in there."
Last September, a fire started behind a clothes dryer at a South Salt Lake home.
Brent Unutoa, Sept. 2006: "We ran to the laundry room, saw the fire, tried to throw water on it, but it was already too far spread."
Cpt. Jay Torgersen: "The main cause is improper maintenance and poor housekeeping."
Firefighters say it's extremely important to clean the lint out of your filter after every load.
Jay Torgersen: "Depending on what type of material you just dried, this can be very flammable. And it can catch fire very easily if the dryer overheats or you have an electrical problem."
Make sure you don't have tears in your filter, but that alone isn't enough. Lint is also carried through the venting system of your dryer. It's important you don't let the lint build up in the hose that connects to the wall, or the air can't get through.
Jay Torgersen: "We recommend that people take the ventilation hose off at least once every year or two and make sure that it's kept clean."
Those dryer hoses should be metal, not plastic or vinyl, and it's ideal if they're a shorter length and have few bends to allow for better airflow. If you do have a long hose, lint accumulates easier in pockets, so it's even more important they're cleaned regularly.