Winter is indeed a beautiful time of the year. The chill in the air brings people together and the world around you is pure white. However, staying warm during these cold months can be costly when you are not careful. Dryer fires peak in the winter, with the highest number occurring in January, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.When cleaning a vent line, opening the line for repair or looking inside the body of the dryer to assess the amount of lint buildup, dryer vent technicians often find charred lint. This means fires are sparking in dryer vent lines without homeowners even knowing, indicating that the chance for a damaging fire is higher than previously thought.
Tips to Help Prevent Winter Dryer Fires
1. Don’t run your dryer while you’re asleep or away. Laundry needs often increase in winter as people wear multiple and heavier layers of clothing to protect against inclement weather. With more loads to run, homeowners might be inclined to run a cycle while doing a quick errand or opt for late-night drying. However, steer clear of using the dryer when you are asleep or out of the house. It’s important to be home and alert in case a fire sparks so you can react in a timely manner and avoid excessive damage.
2. Avoid carbon monoxide buildup. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is extremely hard to detect due to its colorless, odorless and tasteless form. In addition to being extremely flammable and hazardous, it can also cause flu-like symptoms and has the potential to be fatal.
In your laundry room, ensure there are no disconnections in the vent line that would allow this harmful gas to escape and build up in your home.
3. Replace your smoke alarms. It’s recommended that you replace smoke alarms every 10 years and change your batteries once a year. Over time, dust gathers in the detectors, causing the sensors to become desensitized and not work properly.
Pro tip. When you change your clock for daylight savings, change your smoke alarm batteries too.
4. Have an escape plan. As the saying goes, hope for the best but plan for the worst. Always make sure you are prepared in case of a fire. Create exit strategies for you and your family to ensure everyone’s safety during these fire-prone months. During the colder winter months, take extra precautions to avoid a fire from sparking in your dryer vent. Dryer manufacturers recommend that dryer vents be serviced and thoroughly cleaned every year.