How to Avoid Dryer Fires During the Holidays

With the holidays around the corner, we can look forward to snow, hot chocolate and cozying up indoors with extra blankets and sweaters. But many of our favorite things about the holidays can have negative effects on dryers, heightening the risk of sparking a fire. Here are five dryer-safety concerns to keep in mind during the holiday season — and steps you can take to reduce the risk of fires.

1. Blocked vent. A white Christmas can be beautiful and festive during the holidays, but snow can block the outside opening to your dryer vent. This can cause the dryer vent line to freeze and make the dryer work inefficiently, which will potentially induce a dryer fire or create a buildup of carbon monoxide.

To help prevent this, regularly check the vent cover on the exterior side of the house for anything that might reduce airflow.

2. New and heavy fabrics. One of the simplest tasks to reduce the risk of dryer fires is to empty the lint screen before every load, ensuring air is running properly through the appliance. Thicker and newer fabrics used during the holidays create problems for dryers. These fabrics, such as new holiday sweaters, blankets and napkins, create more lint, which gets trapped in the dryer vent.

Excess dryer lint is a major fire hazard, can cause your dryer to become damaged and also reduces the efficiency of your dryer.

3. Nighttime laundry. We all get busy during the holidays and have to do some late-night laundry cycles. However, it’s never a good idea to let your dryer run at night while asleep or when you are not at home. A fire could be devastating, so it’s important to be present when the dryer is running to react if need be.

4. Overheating. Electric bills tend to peak in the winter months, but energy-saving clotheslines aren’t always an option in winter. If time permits, try using the air-dry setting or a lower-heat option on the dryer. These settings will use less energy, helping to save on winter heating bills and keeping heavier loads from potentially overheating in your dryer. This in turn will help to prevent a fire from sparking.

5. Holiday decor. Gift wrap, boxes and guests’ coats, hats, gloves and boots are all part of the holiday joy, but it’s important to keep these items far from the dryer. Keeping the laundry area free from clutter is an easy first step toward fire prevention.

Additionally, Christmas trees are highly flammable and should never be near a dryer, even for a short amount of time. Also be sure to remove any excess pine needles by hand that may have stuck to clothing prior to washing and drying.

Other Prevention and Safety Measures You Can Take

Fire alarms. Check your smoke alarms just before the holidays to make sure they are functioning. This may help to prevent some serious injuries if a fire were to happen, especially with guests in town. It’s hard to imagine, but the majority of dryer fires take place during the dry winter months. We suggest checking alarms at least twice a year. Doing so before and after the holidays can help ensure that your family is safe during these fire-prone winter months.

Dryer vent cleaning. Homeowners are encouraged to have their dryer vents cleaned once a year. This helps ensure everything is working property outside holiday concerns. Checking it off the to-do list before the holidays will help keep everyone safe, and help you have a calm and joyful holiday season.

This article was originally published at Houzz.

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