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Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey urges clothes dryer safety to prevent home fires

RALEIGH — Doing laundry is most likely a part of everyone’s daily routine but taking care of your clothes dryer can make a big difference when it comes to preventing house fires.

Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey urges families to take precautions to prevent home fires caused by clothes dryers.

“You can never be overprepared when it comes to fire safety,” Causey said. “There are several simple steps you can take to prevent fires caused by your clothes dryer, like making sure to clean the lint from the dryer’s lint screen after every load. As an added bonus, it also helps your laundry dry faster.”

In just the last two weeks, there were two house fires caused by clothes dryers in the town of Spring Lake.

Every year, firefighters across the country respond to over 15,000 home fires caused by clothes dryers, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

These fires caused annual averages of 13 civilian deaths, 444 civilian injuries, and $238 million in direct property damage.

The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home fires involving clothes dryers was failure to clean, accounting for one-third (33%) of dryer fires.

Fires involving clothes dryers usually started with the ignition of something that was being dried or was a byproduct (such as lint) of drying, while washing machine fires usually involved the ignition of some part of the appliance.

Causey offers the following safety tips to prevent fires caused by clothes dryers:
• 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 qualified 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 manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
• Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.
For more information, contact OSFM Director of Injury Prevention Shannon Bullock atshannon.bullock@ncdoi.govor call 919-647-0081.