According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), clothes dryers cause about 15,500 fires per year. Many of these fires are caused by improper consumer use and maintenance. Many preventable dryer fires occur every year because consumers mistakenly allow the buildup of lint in their dryers and place inappropriate items in the dryer. You can combat needless destruction and promote environmental safety by properly maintaining your clothes dryer and not putting any items that may cause blockages or combustion in the dryer.
A buildup of dryer lint can cause fire and result in injury or death. A plugged lint screen prevents hot air from getting into the dryer drum. A buildup of lint in the dryer's ventilation system creates a fire hazard. According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), dryer fires cause about 15 fatalities and 400 injuries every year. Keeping the lint screen in your clothes dryer clean promotes energy-efficiency and household safety.
Never put clothes, towels, rags or any other fabrics that have come in contact with flammable substances in your clothes dryer. Flammable substances emit vapors that could ignite fabrics if exposed to intense heat. Alcohol, gasoline, motor oil, cooking oil, paint thinner and spot removers are examples of flammable substances commonly found in many households.
Do not put any item containing rubber or plastic, such as nonslip rugs and athletic shoes, in your dryer. A hot dryer can dry out rubber and plastic and cause them to disintegrate into small pieces. A buildup of these particles in your dryer's lint screen increases risk of combustion. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, rubber and plastic can burn rapidly if in a finely divided form.
House cats are naturally drawn to clothes dryers because they love to snuggle up in warm places. Because cats are quiet and quick, they may jump into an open dryer without you noticing. Running the dryer with your pet trapped inside can cause serious injury or death and emotional devastation. Keep your dryer door closed when the dryer is not in use. Never put any animal in the dryer.
Alyssa Guzman has written online content for eHow and Answerbag since 2010. She is a "journalist of all trades" and writes on many subjects including travel and leisure, animal health, informaton technology, business etiquette and exotic flowering plants. Guzman was a communications studies major at the Florida State University.