It is always uplifting to hear of fresh ideas that are aimed at reducing fire risks and keeping people safe. Whether every new concepts makes it to market is not the point. The point is that, as a society, we keep trying.
I was excited to recently learn of The Paradigm Challenge — a youth innovation competition that this year aimed to generate new ideas to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by home fires. I was even more excited to learn that Kyle Sitkins, a high school graduate from my local area, edged out more than 25,000 competitors from across the nation to take 2nd place in the competition. Kyle introduced a prototype he calls the "Spring Sandwich" which is targeted at reducing dryer fires. The Spring Sandwich pops open the lint trap to remind the user that it needs to be cleaned.
Kyle was startled to find in his research that washers or dryers account for about 17,000 fires in the U.S. every year, and he used data found through the National Fire Protection Association to support his project innovation. “I knew dryer fires were very common and it can be an easy thing to forget,” Sitkins said. “I thought it would be nice to have something that would always remind somebody.”
Kyle will be awarded $2,500 that he plans to apply to tuition at Michigan Technological University to study engineering next year. Online voting is open through Aug. 30 for the Public Choice Award, which could earn Kyle an additional $5,000. Check out Kyle's “Dryer Lint Reminder” and vote! And also take a moment to read NFPA's safety tips on dryer safety, or share a safety tip sheet on the topic!