10 tips to help prevent clothes dryer fires

Don’t forget to include clothes dryer maintenance on your home safety checklist! According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), approximately 2,900 clothes dryer fires are reported each year. These fires unfortunately cause an estimated five deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss each year.

Take steps now to prevent a clothes dryer fire in your home. The following 10 tips will help keep you and your family safe:

  1. Clean the lint filter before and after each use, as well as the back of the dryer. You should also clean the vent pipe at least every three months. The USFA has found that failure to clean dryers is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires.
  2. For electric dryers, use the correct electrical plug and wiring. Having a professional install your dryer will insure electrical hook-ups are correct.
  3. For gas dryers, insure there are no leaks from the connection pipes. A professional should install the hook-up and inspect the gas line regularly.
  4. Do not attempt to dry items that have come into contact with flammable products, such as alcohol, cooking oil, or gasoline. Keep these items outdoors or in a well-ventilated area away from any heat source.
  5. Read the labels on items before you put them in your clothes dryer. Items that contain plastic, rubber, or foam should not be put into a dryer.
  6. Do not run your clothes dryer when you are not at home or after you’ve gone to bed. It doesn’t take long for fires to start if there’s a problem, and it’s safest if you operate this appliance when you can take preventive action quickly if needed.
  7. Insure the dryer vent opening to the exterior of your home opens freely when the dryer is on and that it isn’t blocked by small animal or insect nests.
  8. Keep all flammable items away from the outside of the dryer. Do not hang draperies near the dryer and do not store things on top of or over the dryer.
  9. Cover outside wall dampers to keep rain, snow, and dirt from entering the pipes.
  10. Last, but not least…read your clothes dryer manufacturer’s instructions, warnings, and care manuals. These documents were created to provide the information you need to safely operate the appliance. Take time to review this important information, and share it with everyone in your household who might use the dryer.