“In many homes, appliances and HVAC equipment are used most frequently during the winter months, increasing the threat to family safety,” said Chris Hall, president and co-founder of RepairClinic.com. “There are simple appliance safety steps to keep this equipment working well and prevent dangerous accidents and injuries.”
Dryer – Fire Starter
Every year, clothes dryers cause thousands of major residential fires in the U.S. People are often surprised to learn of the primary culprit: Lint. Dryer venting can become clogged with lint, causing a dangerous buildup of heat and an instant fire that spreads fast.
A venting system should be cleaned out from inside of the dryer to the outside vent cap at least once per year. Professionals can be hired for this or homeowners can purchase a long brush to do it on their own and save money. RepairClinic also recommends Lint Alert, which monitors for lint build-up and blockage in dryer venting and alerts. Homeowners should still periodically check for buildup manually.
Homeowners should pay attention to drying time. If it’s taking longer than usual for clothes to dry, it’s likely that lint is clogging the venting system. The venting should be cleaned out as soon as possible.
Snowblower – More Powerful Than Expected
“People suffer serious hand and arm injuries when they attempt to clear snowblower jams with their hands,” said Jeff Linderman, RepairClinic.com’s on-staff outdoor power equipment expert. “Snowblower augers will continue to spin for a while after the bale arm located at the handle has been released. Therefore, one should never place a hand or arm inside of a chute. Thick gloves will not prevent injury. Instead, a small shovel or the end of a broom should be used to clear snow and ice jams in the auger housing or chute after the motor has been shut off.”
To reduce clogging, use a snowblower no-stick spray on areas that come into contact with snow. Children and pets should remain indoors when a snowblower is in operation because the cloud of snow created by the snowblower or snowthrower while in operation hinders visibility. Additionally, protective eyewear is also advised for snowblower users, as ice can be projected at high speeds and cause serious eye injury.
Furnaces and Generators – Carbon Monoxide Producers
Carbon monoxide, produced by furnaces, generators, grills and other fossil fuel-using appliances, is a colorless, odorless gas. Carbon monoxide from these sources can build up within enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces inside or outside a home. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that carbon monoxide causes hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses every year.
“Every home should have carbon monoxide detectors positioned closest to bedrooms and living spaces where families may sleep or relax for long periods of time,” said Hall. “It’s not as effective to place these detectors in kitchens due to false alarms. Small amounts of carbon monoxide may be emitted from ranges and any cooking appliances that use gas and are generally harmless. While cooking, use your range vent hood fan to assist in circulating or ventilating air in your kitchen.”
Space heaters – Accident Prone
“It’s best to remain in the room while your space heater is in operation,” said Hall. “Space heaters often cause accidental fires. A space heater’s compact size makes it particularly vulnerable to accidental tipping over. Fires are often started when they’re too close to furniture and walls. It’s best to keep space heaters at least three feet away from flammable objects and fabric.”