When you’re heating up leftovers in the microwave or running clothes in the dryer, you might not be thinking about fire, but you should. Believe it or not, a wide range of home appliances can result in fires just through ordinary use.
Between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,100 home structure fires per year in which a microwave oven was involved in ignition. In 2010-2014, there were an estimated 15,970 home fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year.
“Anyone who uses these appliances, no matter what their age, needs to be aware that a fire potential exists when using common appliances like toasters, dryers, and microwaves,” said David Kurasz, Executive Director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB). “Fortunately, many of these fires can be prevented through the proper use and maintenance of household appliances.”
Here are some tips for keeping your home safe from appliance fires:
- Always use appliances for intended purposes
- Read warnings before use, particularly for microwaves, about the danger of heating certain foods and materials.
- Keep your appliances away from wet areas, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Keep at least three feet of space between potentially combustible items and heat sources.
- Do not use extension cords: plug heating appliances, such as microwave ovens, directly into the wall outlet.
- Never operate a dryer without a lint filter, clean the lint tray after each use.
- Never overload a washer or dryer.
- Make sure outside vents are not blocked.
Even after taking these steps, sometimes equipment can malfunction and still result in a fire. Having a family fire safety plan in place, making sure smoke/fire alarms are operational and having a fire sprinkler system installed in your home can help to keep your family safe.
“Fire sprinklers are extremely effective at reducing the intensity of the fire, controlling the spread of fire, and giving people more time to get out of the home safely,” noted Kurasz. “Studies have proven that sprinklers can reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by 80% and reduce the damage to property by 70%.”
- Dryer Fire Safety Video
- Dryer Safety Fact Sheet
- Report on home fires involving clothes dryers and washing machines
- Microwave Oven Safety Fact Sheet
- Guide to microwave oven safety
- Report on home structure fires involving kitchen equipment other than cooking equipment
- Report on home fires involving cooking equipment