Saturday, December 6, 2008

Warning: Save Your Home (and Family)

I hate to be like some local news promo that likes to instill absolute fear in viewers with some cheesy "your family is in danger and you don't even know it" crap... but I have to share what happened here in hopes we could help others.

Thursday night sometime after 10 pm, I did tons of laundry -- think I was on load five -- when the dryer caught fire. Not like spark-oh-that-was-close fire, but full on flames, smoke filling the house fire. At first, I smelled something burning and saw there was light coming from inside. I grabbed the phone and called Jeff at work. The light seemed to go away and I thought maybe it caught fire and then put itself out. But I told Jeff, "I don't feel comfortable just going to bed" and stood there for a bit.

Within several seconds, the dryer suddenly had smoke coming out from all sides and I could see the flame from through the crack of the door. Jeff was my voice of reason and directed me to the fire extinguisher right around the corner. I started to panic, thinking of the three sleeping kids upstairs, and ran next door, frantically ringing our neighbors' doorbell. He came out and ran back with me and extinguished the fire. In the short time it took me to get him (my guess, 45 seconds or so), the entire laundry room was filled with smoke and the flames were growing quickly.

The fire dept. came to check out the situation and we discovered, even though I clean the lint trap after every wash, the lint can get down below and cause a fire. Also dryer vent needs to be blown out -- did you all know about that?

The guilty dryer

The message I want people to take from this is the importance of a fire extinguisher in the home. If we didn't have that, I don't even know what I would've done -- probably just grab all three kids and run out the door... honest and truly. When I shared my event-filled evening with friends the next day, most people admitted to not having an extinguisher (and I think they were about to fix that the same day).

So use your Sunday for good and go get one. It could save your house... if not your life.


The Family K. said...

Ai-yi-yi! So glad to read that you are all okay.

Excuse me while I run out and buy a fire extinguisher right now.

Lynn said...

Oh my god Jackie! I clean the lint thing too everytime, I had no idea it can still catch on fire! I am glad you guys are ok. I do have a fire extinguisher.

Tami and Bobby Sisemore Family said...

OH MY HEAVENS! That is actually a fear of mine! I clean the lint tray each time. so how do you blow it out and with what and where? And lent UNDER the dryer? is that what you said? Please do share all the details! I am SOOO thankful y'all are all safe! We have a fire extinguisher in our kitchen that we got during our home study! We did NOT Have one before though!

Noah's mama

Anonymous said...

Everyone in the MT home is proud of how you handled it. Thanks for the story!!!

Jesse, James and Lindsey's mom said...

We pull our dryer out twice yearly and clean out the back and vacuum. We have several fires each year in Anchorage related to that. God Bless that you are ok..
Kathy T

Unknown said...

Wow, I'm so glad you were alright. Fire has always been something that scares me. This is also one of the reasons also you should never turn on a dishwasher and go to sleep. You never know what could happen.
I grew up with a dad as a firefighter (30 plus years) and fire still freaks me out.

JackieMacD said...

Tami, I'll be more clear. When you pull out the lint trap, some pieces of lint fell into the area as you pull. So after years of little by little -- even though I would shove my hand in there and try to get anything that didn't come out on the trap -- there was enough to start a fire. Kathy T's comment is exactly what we should do -- regular twice yearly maintenance by cleaning it out.

Also, there's a tube behind that is important to replace or clean out semi-regularly (the one that goes into the wall).

The firefighters didn't think that the vent behind caused anything but did recommend that because the air goes into our wall up and through our garage before it goes outside, that we have a professional company come out and use something to blow it out.

Andrea is right. Do NOT go to bed with this stuff running. We did all the time. And if I had gone to bed that night... my whole downstairs could've been gone. Or worse.

Nicole said...

Wow-scary-this happened to a friend of mine too! And she had a new dryer! Never leave your dryers on when you leave the home-i'm so guilty of doing that so many times!

I think we have the same dryer as you by looking at your picture!
Thanks for the advice!

Tisra said...

Eric knows a woman who lost her WHOLE HOME to this. The whole venting system (the "pipes"/tubes/duct) that leads to the outside can build up with fuzz that didn't get caught in the lint screen. It's this fuzz that is instant "kindling" to a fire. The venting is supposed to be cleaned out once a year by a professional (most chimney sweeps do this). Now, being honest, we haven't done this, and really need to!, but we do have a fire extinguisher (or two or three!). I also think Home improvement store carry the long flexible brushes to do it yourself. Glad you're all okay!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad everyone is ok! I told the story to my hubby and he said "that's why you should never leave the house with the dryer on." My response was "really?" I frequently leave the house with the dryer on. Thanks for the lesson. Thank God, we have 3 extinguishers.

Rebecca Lily said...

Oh my goodness. Jackie I am glad you are all ok!!!

We have a fire extinguisher on every level (3)... thanks to having a home study last year. :)

Steve n Coco said...

Oh Jackie! How scary!! For the past few weeks I have been wondering if our dryer was running okay because the time to dry clothes has been increasing. I've been wondering about the vent being plugged, but haven't really done anything about it. Yikes! I think I'll go do that right now. Thanks for the reminder.

Maci Miller said...

Okay, I just HAD to write you and thank you for this post. So scary and I'm glad you are all okay! I always clean the lint tray but it hasn't been going back in nicely in it's slot for some time. Well, upon close inspection (I actually stuck my head in the dryer) I found a TON of lint backed up in there. It's a wonder the lint trap thing slide in there at ALL. Using a long tool from Jeff's toolbox and the vaccuum cleaner I cleaned the whole thing thoroughly. Still have to figure out how to clean the back. Thanks so much for the life saving advice!!!

JennRawks said...

I'm totally buying a fire extinguisher. Thanks for the warning. I'm a slave to the laundry gods.