Very few people realize the fire danger that an improperly maintained cloths dryer can pose. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. Following is a list of tips to keep your dryer fire-safe -- and save you some money on energy as well:

Clean the lint filter after each and every use -- lint is extremely flammable (ask any Boy Scout what the best tinder is for fire starting);

Make sure that the dryer connector hose on the back of the dryer is not kinked. While back there, you will probably find a few missing socks as well;

The length of the exhaust duct run should not be more than 50 feet -- each 90-degree elbow counts as 5 feet -- to the exterior. These lengths may vary by manufacturer, so please check your owner's manual;

Never discharge a dryer to an attic or crawl space;

Make sure the outlet is free and unobstructed;

Run a clothes dryer brush through the exhaust duct at least once per year to clear any lint build-up or hire a professional cleaning service;

Always follow the manufacturer's installation and use instructions for best -- and safest -- performance.

For further questions about this or any other fire safety matters, please call the New Canaan Fire Marshal's Office at 203-594-3030.

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