It may be one of the things in our homes that we think about the least, but dryer vent safety is of vital importance. That’s because your clothes dryer is one of the leading causes of home fires.

There are more than 15,000 dryer fires annually in the United States. And most of these fires are a result of failing to clean the dryer vent ductwork.

Dryer vent lint is so flammable that it is often used as tinder to start campfires.

If the lint in your dryer duct ignites, it can take only minutes for that fire to carry throughout your house.

Part of the problem is that many homeowners think that by cleaning the lint trap every time you use your dryer, they are doing all that is needed to prevent a lint build-up. But there’s much more to it than that.

Here are some useful tips related to your dryer vent.

1. Check your outside dryer vent: When your dryer is running, check the outside dryer exhaust vent to make sure hot air is escaping as it should.

2. Clean your lint trap: Always clean your lint trap before and after every load of laundry.

3. Check around the dryer: Make sure the area around your dryer is free of lint and clutter.

4. Understand Fire Safety Codes: When your dryer is installed or replaced, it’s a good idea to be aware of local fire safety codes to make sure they’re followed.

5. Keep a working Fire Extinguisher nearby.

6. Never leave the house with the dryer running.

7. Use metal dryer ductwork: If you have an accordion-style dryer duct, it should be replaced immediately.

8. Move flammable items: Besides lint and dust, keep baskets of clothing, cleaning products and paint away from your dryer.

9. Don’t put clothes with flammable materials in the dryer.

10. Schedule regular dryer vent cleaning by a professional.