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warning over tumble dryer fire risk as clothes can ignite hours after being removed from machines
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Warning over tumble dryer fire risk as clothes can ignite hours after being removed from machines

Insurer Aviva said it is seeing a spike in claims for fires associated with dryers – with some cases of clothes spontaneously igniting after being taken out of tumble dryers. It warned users that dryers can pose a serious fire hazard when not used or maintained properly either in the home or on a business premises. Aviva said that after a number of fire claims from households and business customers, a forensic investigation -report found that the cause of the fires was as a direct result of non-compliance with the safety guidelines around the use of dryers. Senior loss adjuster at Aviva Insurance Gillian Devereux said the frequency of use of tumble dryers has increased in recent months due to the wintry conditions, with heavy rain and storms. “Unfortunately, tumble dryers can pose a serious fire risk if they are not used correctly,” she said. Ms Devereux added that issues can arise where users wash clothes in lower temperatures to reduce energy costs as oil or grease residues may still be on the clothes when the washing cycle completes. The risk is then heightened when users remove the clothes from the tumble dryers without allowing the cool-down cycle – to further reduce energy costs. The hot clothes that still contain oil residues can very quickly ignite, causing significant fire damage. “Spontaneous ignition of laundry contents can occur when readily oxidising materials, such as cooking oils, are on the laundry.” She said the surface areas of the -materials provide a suitable medium to allow oils to be distributed and -exposed to available oxygen. Such materials also provide a suitable “body” for heat to be retained. “As the oils/chemicals oxidise, the local temperature increases over a -period of hours, eventually resulting in the materials reaching its ignition temperature and igniting to flame, known as spontaneous ignition.” Spontaneous ignition of laundry -contents typically occurs two to six hours following a tumble-drying cycle, Ms Devereux said. “Other causes of combustion when using the tumble dryers include overheating of the machine, clogged lint filters, and worn-out parts, all of which increase the risk of a fire.” Aviva said leaving a tumble dryer running unattended for a period can increase the risk of a fire starting. “While we don’t see these claims every day but when we do see them, they can result in considerable damage and, in some instances, a total loss of the property resulting in devastation for our insured’s home or business premises,” the loss adjuster said. Aviva said the last two customer claims that it received had a combined value of €2m, both of which were commercial customers. “We are seeking to raise awareness of the risk of fires that come with tumble dryers when not used or maintained correctly, with devastating consequences for homes and businesses.” Aviva advised those using tumble dryers in their homes or businesses to ensure that there is someone in the home or on the premises when the machine is on. Policyholders were also advised to make sure they have a working smoke alarm and test it regularly. Users were told to ensure that the build-up of lint is removed regularly from the dryer.

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