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Is Your Laundry A Fire Hazard?

11 Aug 2021 3:38 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

Image result for laundry fireDid you know that after being washed, towels and sheets left in a tumble dryer overnight can catch fire? This linen can start a fire from spontaneous combustion.

It may surprise you to know that fires caused by spontaneous ignition are very common. While cooking remains the leading cause of house fires, laundry room fires account for an average of 15,000 fires each year in the United States according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“Spontaneous combustion” refers to the gradual increase in temperature of a flammable material to the point of ignition. The process is a chemical reaction in which heat is generated. In laundry, the exothermic reaction occurs from oxidation of oils on fabric. (Source: Kelchner Cleaners)

It’s possible for fires to start by spontaneous ignition in any type of business. These types of fires usually start late at night and are not discovered until the fire is in full bloom. A fire could damage your premises and even put a halt to your facility operation. This potential liability issue could also endanger staff or guests at your site. 

Fortunately, there are some simple practices you can put in place to reduce the risk of a laundry fire. Oils are most likely to occur in kitchen laundry. Please review spill management and look at how greasy or oily residue is cleaned up at your site. (Resource from United Laboratories)  Also, review practices with staff who care for laundry to ensure that possibly contaminated laundry is not left in a warm, enclosed space overnight.

Special thanks to Dale Connell from A1 American Group/ American Associated Companies for alerting us to this important risk management topic!

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