Fire Marshal Offers Clothes Dryer Safety Tips

Fire Marshal Bill Halstead noted this week that during the past year, malfunctioning clothes dryers have caused three structure fires in town.

Most recently, on January 2, a malfunctioning clothes dryer caused a house fire on Thunder Ridge Road in Sandy Hook that resulted in approximately $500,000 in property damage.

Consequently, Mr Halstead is offering residents some safety tips about clothes dryers.

The leading cause of home dryer fires is failure to clean those dryers.

Mr Halstead urges that residents have their clothes dryers installed and serviced by professionals.

Also, people should not use a dryer without a lint filter.

People should clean the lint filter before and after each laundry load. Any lint that has collected around the dryer’s clothes drum should be removed.

Also, either rigid or flexible-metal venting material should be used to sustain proper airflow and drying time.

Make sure the dryer’s air-exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and that the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating.

Once a year, or more often, if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, residents should clean any lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer technician do it.

Dryers should be kept in good working order. Gas-powered dryers should be inspected by a professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.

Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.

Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.

Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.

Dryers should be properly grounded.

Check the outdoor vent flap to make sure it is not covered by snow or blocked by landscaping.

Keep the area around your dryer clear of objects that can burn, such as boxes, cleaning supplies, and clothing.

Clothing that has come in contact with flammable substances, like gasoline, paint thinner, or similar solvents, should be laid outside to dry, after which they can be washed and dried as usual.

All residents should have in place both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.

Smoke detectors should be located on each floor, both outside and inside bedrooms. CO detectors should be located outside of all bedrooms.

Detectors should be installed based on the manufacturer’s instructions, and batteries should be replaced every six months. Changing those batteries when clocks are semiannually changed for daylight saving time is a good way to remember to change batteries.

The town Fire Marshal’s Office at Newtown Municipal Center has several free fire prevention, fire safety, and storm preparation-related brochures and booklets available for residents. For additional information the office can be reached at 203-270-4370. 

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