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Latest Health Threat Ė Dirty Underwear

Actually dirty underwear canít really hurt you, just donít tell your kids. But as a part time writer I thought I would employ the long standing journalistic tradition of sensationalism. The actual problem is what we do with our dirty underwear, not the cleaning, the drying. Electric and gas powered clothes dryers have been the ignition source for many house fires. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires in the United States with 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Using the usual 10% rule that applies to many US statistics, that would translate into Canada having in excess of 1,500 cases per year, and considering that our climate does not allow for clotheslines to be used for long periods of the year I would suggest that this number may be even higher. One occurrence of a clothes dryer starting a fire was reported this past January in west end Ottawa, even Russell was witness to this happening in the late 1990ís.


The problem begins with the homeowner, all clothes dryers come equipped with a lint trap that requires cleaning. This is often overlooked and an excessive build up of lint; which is highly flammable, combined with reduced airflow produce a situation that is ideal for combustion. Lint traps should be cleaned and rinsed with soapy water after each use, however lint traps donít catch all the lint produced by a dryer. The exhaust ducts often accumulate a large amount of lint build up and should also be cleaned periodically. Newer homes which often place the dryer on the main floor and a good distance away from an exterior wall make this a job for a professional. Dryers located in the basement can simply have the flexible exhaust duct replaced by the home owner. Another area of concern is within the dryer itself, as mentioned before the lint trap does not catch all the lint produced, most dryers when dismantled show this quite obviously. It is recommended that at least every two years the dryer is partially dismantled and thoroughly cleaned, maintenance like this will not only reduce your fire risk but increase the efficiency of the dryer and extend its service life.


Clothes dryer fires are not epidemic, however they do occur. The practice of putting on the clothes dryer while you are out of the house or even worse when you go to bed should really be avoided. One last alternative measure I would recommend will make the ecologically minded folks quite happy, use a clothesline. At the time of this writing there has not been any reported fires started by a clothesline.

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