Tumble Dryer Dos and Don’ts

The three Fire and Rescue Services in Wales have joined forces to remind us of the simple steps we should all be taking while using our tumble dryers this winter.

The campaign is launched to coincide with Electrical Fire Safety Week which runs across the UK from 19-25th November highlighting how half of accidental house fires are caused by electricity.

As temperatures drop and rainfall increases, there is no doubt that our use of tumble dryers will also increase throughout the winter months.

However, as our use increases, so does our tendency to become complacent in our use, often forgetting some simple dos and don’ts which could significantly reduce our risk from fire.

Indeed, tumble dryers have accounted for 57% of all fires involving white goods in Wales over the last three years (there are on average 158 fires involving white goods in every year).

In reality, the consequences of a tumble dryer fire can be devastating, as experienced by a young family in Llandudno in September this year.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Watch Manager Ian McIntosh who attended the incident explains:

“On arrival we found the ground floor of the property heavily smoke logged. We located the fire in the kitchen and two fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus extinguished the fire using a hose reel jet which had spread from the tumble dryer.

“Luckily the residents, a mother and her five children aged between 9 and 16 years of age, had noticed the smoke and been able to escape from the incident unharmed.

“The family were temporarily rehoused as the fire and left the kitchen badly damaged, with smoke damage extending to most of the remainder of the property. But their loss could have been immeasurably worse as the fire took hold at around 10.30pm – the family could easily have been in bed at the time and the fire could have been life threatening.”

In a bid to reduce the risk of something similar happening again, the three Welsh Fire and Rescue Services will be promoting the dos and don’ts of using tumble dryers via short videos on their social media sites throughout the winter months. The videos will also be shown at all home safety visits undertaken by the three Fire and Rescue Services.

Here are some of the simple steps we should all be following:

  • Don’t overload plug sockets – the high wattage for a tumble dryer means that it needs its own 13-amp socket. Keep an eye out for any scorching or burn marks, including checking any visible electrical wires.
  • Don’t leave appliances unattended – don’t turn the tumble dryer on before you leave the house or go to bed. Tumble dryers contain powerful motors with fast moving parts that can get very hot.
  • Keep your dryer well ventilated, make sure the vent pipe is kink free and not blocked or crushed in any way.
  • Always clean out the filter after using your tumble dryer.
  • Always allow each drying programme, including the ‘cool down cycle’, to complete fully before emptying the machine. If you stop the machine mid cycle, the clothing will still be hot.
  • Don’t ignore the warning signs – if you can smell burning or clothes feel hotter at the end of the cycle, stop using your appliance and have it checked out by a professional.

While the focus throughout the winter months is on tumble dryers, the three Services are also taking the opportunity to remind us of the importance of safely managing all our white good appliances including tumble dryers, washing machines, dishwashers or fridge/freezers.

In all instances, we are all reminded to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the use and maintenance of our own appliances – and indeed to register our appliances at www.registermyappliance.org.uk, which will enable manufacturers to contact us if any faults become apparent, or if any recall notices are issued.

Further information from manufacturers on defects, or appliances that have been recalled, can also be found on the Electrical Safety First website www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Most importantly of all – make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it regularly – we recommend once a week! You should also ensure you have an escape plan for you and your family should a fire occur – and once you’re out of the house, you should always stay out, never go back. Visit your local Fire and Rescue Service’s website for more information.




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