Many Australian households use clothes dryers to tackle a bulk of their laundry needs, but this reliance comes at the cost of obligation. You need to ensure your clothes dryer is run safely, and that it doesn’t present a hazard to both your home and the homes around you. And of course, the people inside them.
Granted, this isn’t terribly difficult. You simply need to be mindful of several things when using your clothes dryer. Thanks to both Aegis and the Queensland Fire and Safety Service for outlining most of these fire safety tips on their respective websites.
Keep an eye on the lint and dust
You’ll no doubt be familiar with the grey ‘fluff’ that accumulates around the dryer screen. Any fire safety expert will tell you straight away that this lint presents a terrible risk for fire in regards to dryer operation.
Happily, many Australians realise this, as 71% of clothes dryer owners who responded to our survey remove the lint from their appliance after every use. Follow their example, and thoroughly inspect your dryer screen before and after each load.
Similarly, the back of your machine can also accumulate dust and lint, which is just as combustible. It would be wise to clean the back of your machine once a month to avoid an incident.
Finally, clean the dryer screen every now and again with hot, soapy water. Old lint, dirt and dust can accumulate and stick there without you knowing.
Turn the clothes dryer off when leaving the house
Leaving your clothes dryer on while you’re away from your house could mean you’re absent in the event of an emergency. A few minutes can mean the difference between minor damage, and a destroyed home, so do the sensible thing and turn it off while you’re away. Unfortunately our survey found that 38% of households often leave their clothes dryer running when no one is around, and the same often number go to bed before turning it off. OK, doing this might be convenient at the time, but it’s very risky and would leave any fire fighter shaking their head.
Cool down time
Unsurprisingly, clothes dryers generate a lot of heat. Therefore, it would be wise if you afforded the machine ample time after a full cycle to vent the last of that heat away from the machine. About one in three survey respondents told us they have concerns that their clothes dryer gets too hot. If in doubt, hang your clothes up outside or dry them later.
Don’t overload your power outlets, power boards and double adaptors; they can all start electrical fires.
Be careful what you put into the dryer
Did you spill some petrol onto your jeans at the service station? Maybe you dropped some cooking fat on your shirt while cooking dinner. Combustible fluids and materials and clothes dryers do not mix – so wash any affected materials in hot, soapy water before throwing them into the dryer.
Also, you may – from time to time – need to dry something strange, such as a pair of sodden shoes or a particularly soaked rug. Please read the manufacturer’s instructions before doing so, as drying something the machine isn’t built for may place unnecessary strain on it.
Ensure adequate airflow
Speaking of unnecessary stress, make sure your dryer has adequate ventilation. This way, it won’t need to work too hard to operate at peak efficiency, and thus won’t overheat. Also be wise not to overload your clothes dryer – something that 36% of survey respondents admitted they often do.
Just in case: What you should have in your home
- First aid kit.
- Smoke detectors with fully charged batteries.
- Dry powder fire extinguisher and fire blanket.
- A working phone to call 000 in the event of a fire.
- (Optional) A ‘bug out’ bag. This is a bag full of essential survival gear necessary if you had to leave your house without forewarning. A cursory Google search should help you decide what to pack.