For once I wasn’t running late; in fact it was about fifteen minutes before I planned to leave that I ran downstairs for something. As I went down the stairs an acrid smoky odor hit my nose – it smelled like a gazillion cigarettes burning. Glancing at the dryer I saw smoke coming from the back of it.
Ohmygosh, the dryer is on fire!
I raced down the last few stairs, threw open the dryer door – stopping the cycle – and frantically pulled the clothes out of the dryer and into a laundry basket. They smelled like smoke but didn’t look scorched.
As I hunkered down next to the dryer my raced a thousand miles an hour:
Was there really a fire?
If there was, was it out now?
How would I know? I sniffed the air inside the dryer and listened carefully for crackling sounds.
What if it’s smoldering inside?
Should I call 911?
I was hesitant to call 911 because I didn’t want to be late for the dinner I’d been looking forward to for months.
On the other hand, Teacher was also gone for the evening and I didn’t want to leave Princess and College Boy in charge if there was any chance there was a fire.
It was a real dilemma.
Should I call Dad N? He used to be a fire fighter; he’ll probably tell me to call 911.
Should I call Nicole? She was a fire fighter too, and will probably tell me to call 911 too.
I paced up and down the stairs as I debated, stopping each time I passed the dryer to thrust my head inside and sniff deeply, then listen carefully. I wasn’t sure what I was smelling and listening for, but it was better than doing nothing.
I went upstairs and asked College Boy to help, “Hey, you’re currently Man of the House; come downstairs and look at the dryer. It was smoking, smells burnt, and I don’t know if there was a fire or what.”
“I don’t know anything about dryers.” he replied.
“Me neither, but at least you can pull it away from the wall easier than I can.” I said.
Downstairs he pulled the dryer away from the wall, then took a cursory glance behind and inside it. “I don’t see anything.”
He went back upstairs.
Still torn between not wanting to miss my dinner and leaving the kids in a potentially dangerous situation, I finally decided to call my dad. “Dad? Are you busy? Do you have a minute to look at my dryer? It was smoking and something smells burnt.”
My poor dad. Someday he’s going to learn how to say “No”, but not this time. He was over within five minutes.
Dad pulled the dryer further away from the wall and took a peek behind it, then removed the flexible vent that ran from the dryer to the wall and took it outside. I waited for several minutes, then went upstairs just as he returned with his small Shop Vac. I love it! It’s so much cuter and easier to handle than our ginormous behemoth.
He used the Shop Vac to suck up as much lint from both ends of the inner-wall vent, the back of the dryer, and the inside of the dryer as he could. He’d removed the frame that holds the lint trap in place inside the dryer drum, so while he was Shop Vac-ing I reached my arm as far into the opening as I could and pulled out handful after handful after handful after handful… you get the idea of lint.
Yes, I know that dryer lint is one of the most flammable materials on Earth and dryer vent fires are a real danger. Yes, I do clean out the lint trap after every load. Yes, I know I should also clean out the dryer vents regularly, and I have several times in the past. It’s just that things are so crazy right now that dryer fire prevention isn’t on my top ten list of things that need to be done. Heck, it’s not even in the top twenty… or thirty… But I’ve decide to get a dryer vent cleaning kit so I’ll have the right tools; all I need is the time.
After almost 45 minutes Dad decided that we’d done all that we could for now. I thanked him profusely and dashed off to pick up Jo-Bear’s geraniums – almost 30 minutes late – then to dinner. I wasn’t really late for dinner, but arriving half an hour late meant I missed pre-dinner drinks and chatting.
Someday I’d like to be on time without something coming up to make me late.
I’m not holding my breath though, because around here…
It’s always something.