Bobby Harrison was in Miss Quinn’s second grade class with me. He lived down the street, in a big house right next to our church, with his four siblings and mom and dad. And one early morning, right there in the middle of our second grade year, Bobby’s house burned to the ground and the whole family perished. The stories still haunt me of two neighborhood boys who were delivering newspapers that morning and tried to get the mother and children to jump out a third floor window before they succumbed to the smoke and flames.
Surely like me, you have heard terrible stories too, or even experienced a fire-related tragedy in your own life, and there is no end you would go to protect your family from harm. Ever since I became responsible for another life, one of my biggest fears has a been a home fire.
And so – like you – Mark and I do what any responsible parents and homeowners do – we take precautions to make sure our home is fire-safe. Hire licensed electricians for any major electrical work. Keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen. Clean out the lint trap every time we run the dryer.
The other day I noticed my dryer duct hose had came loose from the wall where the hot air vents outside. A step stool that we store next to the washer and dryer had fallen over and dislodged it. I had Peter help me move the machine out of the way (thank God for his 14 year old strength, because that thing was not budging for me!).
When I went behind the machines to re-attach the dryer duct hose, I noticed a HEAVY coating of lint on the wall vent that takes the hot air out. A little investigating later, and look what I found outside, in the corner of my deck, concealed from view:
the dryer vent that I haven’t looked at once in the three years we have lived here…..
This thick coating is covering the aluminum duct that vents the dryer to the outside.
I pulled out the whole thing and replaced it with this louvered vent. The louvered part remains closed until the dryer air blows it open, so critters can’t get in.
Regarding dryer duct hoses: I had seen a video at Pretty Handy Girl about a duct hose that can ignite from the heat of the dryer and of course it was the style I had, that looks like a slinky covered in tin foil:
Is this what you have too? I did some research and discovered that my hose was most likely a NON-FLAMMABLE, UL-listed product, but I decided not to take the chance and replaced it with an aluminum hose.
After I removed the tinfoil slinky hose, the kids and I stuffed a bit of lint in it and tried to light it on fire (on our driveway with the hose in hand), just to see if it was indeed flammable — (see kids, I can be the fun mom! – let’s light something on fire!!)
Our experiment was to no avail – after about 10 attempts we were satisfied that this hose wasn’t flammable.
The Harrisons’ fire, so many years ago, was not caused by their dryer.
So why, why, why am I writing this lengthy and boring blog post today?
Because remembering the Harrisons makes me want to do whatever I can to keep my family safe.
Because I think I am pretty responsible about fire prevention in my home, and yet, despite the fact that I run my dryer almost EVERY SINGLE DAY, I overlooked a potential fire hazard that was right in front of me. While this topic is on my mind, I want to urge you to check out your dryer and make sure it’s not a fire hazard.
Because so many house fires are caused by the dryer and can be prevented. And because I care about you and I want YOU to be safe too.
1 – Clean out the lint trap every time you use your dryer.
Check out more dryer tips from the National Fire Protection Association.
For a comprehensive list for your home, check out this list on 22 ways to prevent home fires.