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Official gives dryer safety tips following fatal fire

WSBT 22{ }

If clothes dryers are not maintained, they could potentially be dangerous.

Fire officials say they respond to a lot of dryer fires. And sometimes those calls can end in death.

Just Thursday we saw a La Porte County man lose his life in a fire. Officials believe it started in the dryer.

Experts say simple maintenance could save your life.

It's probably not your favorite chore, but laundry is a part of everyday life. And drying your clothes shouldn't be dangerous.

"It's probably more common than we'd like to see,” said Capt. Gerard Ellis, SBFD.

Ellis says sometimes the lint can accumulate and the heat from the dryer can create a fire. He says it's more than just cleaning the filter.

"At least once a year take a look at the exhaust hose from the dryer. Take it off the dryer, check it out see if it's clean. Maybe vacuum it out if you can."

Not checking that exhaust hose creates the most issues.

"If you leave that on there for several years, over the years it's going to accumulate and then that opening is going to get smaller and smaller and then that heat is going to build up and then eventually it lights that lint on fire.”

That's where companies like Vac Man come into play.

Matthew Steenbeke cleans dryer vents every day.

"Many times we see dryer vent systems that really aren't safe,” said Steenbeke. “They're either not up to code. They're using improper material. Maybe they're too long.”

He says sometimes it comes down to the type of exhaust hose you have.

“This what we consider poor material that we use for dryer venting. You can see it actually just has a plastic liner that can begin to burn if there's any type of a spark."

He says replacing that with a harder metal pipe that doesn't bend as much is crucial. Because in the end the only thing that should be warm are your clean clothes.

It's not necessary that you check your dryer all the time. Captain Ellis says once or twice a year is good -- depending on how much laundry you do.

If you live in an apartment, ask maintenance about the last time they checked. It's a simple question that could save you a lot of hassle.

Another good piece of advice? Do not leave a dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.

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