With the risk of pop-up thunderstorms almost every day in the summer many Louisiana residents turn to their dryers to finish the laundry chore, however, that modern convenience could be placing you and your family at unnecessary risk. The good news is that you can do something about it, and it's not as hard to do as you might think.

Duct Heroes via YouTube
Duct Heroes via YouTube
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The dryer, just like any other home appliance can be a blessing and curse. It's a blessing because you don't have to hang clothes on a line and race outside when afternoon storms pop up unexpectedly. You can also "skip" the ironing process by fluffing up a shirt or blouse to remove the wrinkles when you're short on time.

You can also burn your house down too. Just this past Friday in Lafayette, fire crews responded to the scene of a house fire that was believed to have started in the dryer. Clothes dryers and washing machines account for almost 16,000 house fires on an annual basis. The dryer was the catalyst in 92% of those fires.

David McNew, Getty Images
David McNew, Getty Images
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You've probably figured out that the lint created by the tumbling action of the dryer plays a huge part in many of those fires. Heck, dryer lint is so combustible that many campers and outdoorsy types collect lint to use as a campfire starter. But unless you want to roast weenies in your laundry room in the charred remains of your house, you're probably going to want to get rid of that lint.

Many of you are familiar with cleaning the lint filter on your machine. Some of you do that with every load. Most of us don't that's why when we do remember to clean the lint filter the stuff we remove resembles a small quilt.

But the lint filter isn't the only place you need to check for lint buildup. Certainly, it is the most obvious and easier to clean but when is the last time you checked your dryer's vent and the hose that connects to it? Ahh, never you say. Well, you'd be average for saying that.

The dryer vent is usually located outside your home on a wall that's very near where your dryer is located, or it should be. If you can shorten the length of the vent hose between the dryer and the outside you'll actually get better efficiency from your machine. Once you locate the vent, make sure no plants, leaves, debris, or small animals have clogged it.

Duct Heroes via YouTube
Duct Heroes via YouTube
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Usually, a telltale sign of a clogged vent or compromised vent hose is when your dryer needs multiple cycles to get your clothes dry. That's not always the case but when that happens this could be your first solution instead of calling for a repairman.

In order to clean your dryer's vent and vent hose do this. Unplug your dryer if it's electric, if it's gas, turn off the supply to the unit. Pull the dryer away from the wall and disconnect the vent hose. Use a vacuum cleaner to vacuum out excess lint from the back of the machine at the point where the hose connects.

Next, you might want to purchase a dryer cleaning kit that comes with an elongated brush or you can fashion it on your own using a toilet brush and a broom handle. If the brush gets stuck in the hose, don't blame me, you were the one that was too cheap to get the official kit.

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amazon.com
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Use the brush to clean the inside of the hose. If the hose pieces is very short, it might be simpler to just replace them. Then all you need to do is run the brush through the vent hole in your wall. You might be able to accomplish the same thing using your vacuum cleaner too.

Now clogged vents and lint traps aren't the only reasons that dryers catch on fire. Sometimes people overload the machine and that's not good. Or there are even stories of people putting clothing that has been exposed to flammable liquids in their dryer. That's not a good idea either. And of course, you'll want to make sure your electrical connections are solid and in good working order too.

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amazon.com
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Here's one more tip, do you have a fire extinguisher in your laundry room? You need to get one if you don't. You probably need one for the kitchen too and your smoke detector, when is the last time you checked the batteries?

It seems to me an ounce of prevention is worth a lot more than a pound of cure in this case so take a minute right now and give your dryer a quick check-up and make sure you dispose of that flammable lint properly.

And don't ever put dryer lint in the microwave. Don't you do it and don't put these things in there either.

Don't Ever Put These Things in the Microwave