While you may be aware of some of the most common causes of house fires, there are other hidden dangers around your home that can cause some pretty scary damage.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 494,000 structure fires reported in the U.S. in 2014, causing 2,860 civilian deaths, 13,425 civilian injuries and $9.8 billion in property damage.
A home fire was reported every 86 seconds.
It may not come as a surprise to learn that cooking and heating equipment are among the leading causes of house fires in the U.S., according to data from the NFPA. But when it comes to other fire hazards in the home, many people are unaware of all the things that could be putting their family at risk.
How to prevent a hidden cause of house fires in the U.S.
How often do you clean out the lint filter in your dryer? While it’s one of those annoying tasks nobody actually likes, it can prevent your home from going up in flames.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 15,000 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year — and one of the primary causes is failure to clean them.
So to keep your home safe, here are some dos and don’ts from the U.S. Fire Administration on how to properly use and clean your dryer:
- Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged.
- Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
- Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.
Clothes dryer don’ts
- Don’t use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
- Don’t overload the dryer.
- Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
- Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
- Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers’ instructions state “dry away from heat.”
- Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers’ instructions allow).
- Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
- Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
For more tips on safe installation, maintenance and more, check out the group’s website.