Appliance Fires — Are You Safe

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Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue

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Appliances simplify our lives, but they also pose a fire and injury risk if not properly maintained. PWL Each year, thousands of residential fires occur involving appliances.

Washers & Dryers

Dryers and washing machines account for one out of every 22 home structure fires. The leading cause was failure to clean (34%), mechanical failure/malfunction (22%) and electrical failure or malfunction (8%).

Clothes Dryer

Annually, more than 15,000 dryer-related fires occur in homes resulting in deaths, injuries and millions of dollars in property loss. Dryer fires occur more frequently during the fall and winter months, with January being the peak month for these types of fires.

When using a clothes dryer, remember to:

  • Clean lint filter before or after each use.
    • Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter.
    • Remove accumulated lint around the drum.
  • Annually, clean lint out of the vent pipe.
  • Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to ensure the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.


Although washing machines account for only 4% of home structure fires, they remain a fire and life safety hazard causing significant property damage. When using a washer, follow these simple steps:

  • Avoid overloading the machine.
  • Make sure the machine is properly grounded.

Cooking Equipment

To date, cooking fires remain the leading cause for home fire injuries. In 2013, home cooking fires resulted in 188,000 fires, 225 deaths, 4,225 injuries and $525,700 in property loss. From 2004-2013, cooking fires and losses have increased; there has been a 15% increase in fires, 21% increase in deaths, 44% increase in injuries and 106% increase in dollar loss. The leading contributor/factor of these fires and deaths was unattended cooking. When using cooking equipment, keep these safety tips in mind:

Oven Ranges

  • Keep burners, the stove top, and oven clean and free of grease and other flammable debris.
  • Never leave flammable items such as hot pads or towels near burners.
  • Don’t leave food cooking. If you must leave the room, turn the stove off.

Microwave Ovens

  • Avoid overheating liquids that may erupt and cause severe burns.
  • Keep the inside of the oven, the door, and all seals clean and free of debris.
  • Never use metal pans and utensils.

Should a fire occur in the home, Prince William County Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee advises residents to protect themselves and their families by implementing the following safety measures:

Smoke Alarms

Working smoke alarms increase your chances of surviving a fire by 50% ( Be sure to:

  • Install working smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home including the basement.
  • Test smoke alarm batteries monthly.
  • Replace batteries when you change your clock (spring and fall).

Home Fire Escape Plan

Each year, fires kill more Americans than all natural disasters combined. In 2014, there were an estimated 367,500 home structure fires and 2,745 associated deaths. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one of every three U.S. households have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. While 71% of Americans have a plan, only 47% have practiced it. Chief McGee, in conjunction with NFPA, strongly urges families to:

  • Make a home fire escape plan.
    • Have at least two escape routes from every room.
    • Practice the plan on a regular basis so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire.

For additional fire and life safety tips, visit the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. Fire Administration and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission


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