Laundry room safety

The laundry room may seem like a fairly innocuous place, but this utility space found in most U.S. homes can be responsible for fire, water damage and hundreds of injuries each year. The National Fire Prevention Association reports that in 2006 alone, there were over 17,700 fires involving clothes dryers and washers resulting in 15 deaths and $294 million in property damage.

While your Allied Homeowners Insurance will protect your home for covered losses like fire, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by conducting some simple and preventative safety checks in the laundry room.

Prevent dryer fires

Simply put, dryers work by circulating hot air around and through damp fabrics. If the air can't circulate, the dryer just gets hot and the combustible clothing inside becomes fuel for a fire.

There are three simple laundry room safety checks related to fire prevention:

  • The lint trap, usually located in or near the door of the dryer, should be cleaned between each load of laundry.
  • The ducting located at the back of the dryer (where the hot air outside is exhausted to the outside) should be checked regularly. There is usually a simple metal clamp holding the hose to the dryer. Pop it off and make sure lint has not collected there.
  • Outside your home, check the end point of the dryer vent where the hot air is released. Make sure the vent opens to let the air out when the dryer is running, and check that it's not clogged with dryer lint.

Check your washer

Washing machines pull in and push out large volumes of water during each and every cycle. If something goes wrong, all that water can end up flooding your house.

The water for your washing machine comes from two hoses, one hot and one cold. These water valves are always turned on full force, released only when the washer is turned on. When the washer is not operating, water pressure builds up in the hoses. If your hoses are made of rubber, they can leak or even rupture, flooding your house with running water at a rate of up to 600 gallons an hour. Consider replacing them with braided steel hoses, or shutting off the water in between washer loads.

The water that leaves your washing machine during the spin cycle is ejected forcefully. Find the rubber hose that takes the dirty water down the drain and make sure the hose is securely connected at the drain, so the force of the water doesn't push the hose out, spraying your laundry room with dirty water. If your hose flows into a utility sink instead, be sure you never leave anything in the sink that could float around and ultimately block the sink drain, causing water to flood your laundry room.

Other laundry room safety hazards

  • Remember not to store combustible materials near the dryer.
  • Don't dry items stained with combustible fluids like gasoline or furniture polish.
  • Replace flexible foil or plastic dryer ducts with those made from metal.
  • Washers and dryers should be plugged into properly grounded outlets to prevent electrical shock.
  • If your furnace is near the laundry room, be sure not to hang clothing or drop dryer lint near it.

Source: Nationwide.com

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