Clean your clothes dryer regularly to prevent fires


Heavy woolen and fleece clothes may help Canadians survive the country's long and frosty winters. But many people don't realize that they also carry a hidden hazard: when tumbled in a dryer, they shed loads of lint that can pack into cavities and exhaust pipes and increase the risk of fire.

There are about 12,700 clothes-dryer fires in residential buildings annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. These preventable fires caused 15 deaths, 300 injuries and about $88 million US in property damage. There are no comparable statistics available for Canada.

The Saint John Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Division has investigated two serious fires involving clothes dryers just in the past several days. Canadians in particular must be vigilant about maintaining a lint-free clothes dryer because of our long, slushy winters.

"In Canada, we use our dryers probably excessively," says District Chief Gerald Green. “If you're anything like most families, you're doing two to three loads of laundry every day, so make sure to clean the lint trap every time with every usage."

Failure to clean out lint traps is the main cause of dryer fires. A blocked vent or exhaust pipe blocks hot air from venting outside, turning the highly combustible lint into a fire hazard.

Consumers must check both the lint trap and the pipe for lint.

Fire Prevention staff recommend people use their vacuum cleaner to clear out lint buildup in the dryer.

To ensure you don't have a dryer fire:

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