Suggestions or tips on reducing exposure to danger.

Protect your credit

Some tips for protecting your credit score:

Make sure your payment is received by your creditor by the Due Date. A missed or late payment will likely be reported to the credit bureaus and can have a negative impact on your credit score. If you cannot pay the entire balance, then pay the minimum balance due. Avoid getting near the credit limit of your credit card. Having a high balance, even just for one period, could have a negative effect on your score. Keep your charges under half of the credit card’s balance limit.    

Keep your oldest credit card open and use it occasionally. However, if your oldest credit card has unsatisfactory terms (such as a very high annual fee), then you can cancel it so long as you have another credit card account in good standing. If you don’t have another credit card, then keep your old account open until you have opened a new credit card and established a payment relationship with it (use the new card and pay off the charges). Closing an old credit card account could decrease your credit score.

Avoid excessive credit applications and requests for credit limit increases. Lenders do not like seeing other recent credit applications. Limit yourself to one new credit card application a year or less.

Check your credit reports for any errors. To order, visit AnnualCreditReport.com OR call 1-877-322-8228. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the 3 credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you see a mistake on one of your reports, then report it in writing to that credit bureau. You should find instructions on how to properly report an error on your credit report.  PLEASE, Please, please, keep a copy of your letter to the credit bureau. If a bank continues to wrongly report a debt on your credit report, then we might be able to help. Contact us at Skinner Law Firm for a free case evaluation.

Lethal Lint: Your Lint Trap Could be a Death Trap

A house fire, even a small one, is a terrifying prospect.  A legal assistant here at Skinner Law Firm remembers a dryer fire at her home when she was a small girl.  She woke from sleep to the sound of the fire alarm going off.  They called 911.  She, her mother, and her sister evacuated the house, and her father investigated the source.  He found smoke pouring from the laundry room in the basement.  Fortunately, he was able to extinguish the fire before it spread, and the fire department made sure there weren’t any remaining hotspots.  However, each year, hundreds of other families aren’t so lucky.

Clothes dryers are a common source of residential fires.  From 2008 to 2010 there were an estimated 2,900 residential fires that started in clothes dryers.  The estimated property loss was around $35 million.  (FEMA).  This type of fire is generally covered by homeowners’ insurance.  In fact, Andrew Skinner has a former colleague whose entire legal practice involves claims from clothes dryer fires.

Although electrical defects are sometimes to blame for dryer fires, the most frequent cause of a dryer fire is lint trapped in the dryer’s venting duct.  Vents can also be clogged by birds’ nests or other debris from the outdoors.  When the vent is clogged, it can become heated to the point that the material clogging it ignites.

According to experts like the National Fire Protection Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are a number of ways to reduce the danger of a dryer fire.  Clean the lint trap of your dryer before each use.  Be careful about the items you put in the dryer; never dry things like athletic shoes or foam backed rugs because these synthetic materials are flammable.  Make sure your dryer is properly vented.  Use only metal ducts to vent and be sure the duct is no longer than thirty-five feet.  If your dryer is taking longer than usual to dry items, or if the cycle finishes, but the clothes are still damp, inspect the vent.  You should consider having a professional clean the vent at least every two to three years. (NFPA).

FEMA:  www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v13i7.pdf
NFPA:  http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/causes/dryers-and-washing-machines/dryer-safety-tips
Photo Credit:  CPSC Fire Safety Week – http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2009/10/fire-prevention-week/