Can you imagine having to go out to the ice-house to get something to cook for dinner? Or spending hours scrubbing clothes on a washboard? Modern conveniences surely make life much easier today than it was 40 or 50 years ago, with large appliances such as refrigerators and washers taking the pain out of our daily tasks.
We often use these appliances without a second thought, which means we can sometimes forget to keep safety in mind. One of the most common dangers posed by large appliances is the risk of fire, accounting for 9,600 fires annually. Follow the safety and maintenance rules below to keep your appliances running at peak efficiency while keeping you and your family safe.
- Avoid overloading a washing machine.
- Make sure your washing machine is properly grounded with a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet (GFCI) – contact a qualified electrician to have one installed.
- Make sure the right plug and outlet are used together—washers should have a three prong, GFCI electrical plug.
- Never use a washer that is sitting in water.
- Do not operate a dryer without a lint filter, and always clean the lint filter before or after each use.
- Rigid or flexible metal venting materials should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
- Make sure the air exhaust pipe isn’t restricted and that the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating.
- Clean lint out of the vent pipe once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry. You can also have a dryer lint removal service perform the work for you.
- Do not leave a dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
- Never dry items that have come in contact with flammable substances, such as cooking oil, gasoline, paint thinner or alcohol.
- 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 that is cooking unattended.
- Always turn pot handles inward to avoid the possibility of knocking a pot off the stove.
- Vacuum refrigerator coils every three months to eliminate dirt buildup that reduces efficiency and creates fire hazards.
- Allow air circulation behind the refrigerator.
And remember, even a slight shock from any appliance can indicate an extremely hazardous wiring condition. Turn the power to the appliance off at the circuit breaker and do not touch the appliance until it has been checked by a licensed, electrician.