Winter brings an uptick in the number of house fires every year, and that includes fires caused by dryers.
There have been 20 dryer fires over the past ten days in Prince George's County, fire department data shows.
One fire on Saturday displaced a number of families in a Calverton apartment complex.
Shaun Jones said his neighbor smelled smoke but didn't know where it was coming from until too late.
"We literally could have lost everything had it spread to other apartments," Jones told News4. "I know what to do. It just makes me nervous that other residents don't know what to do."
Fire officials say thorough and regular cleanings are key to preventing lint from catching fire.
"With it being cold and moist and hot-cold air coming in it's going to stay clinging to the hose and the vent itself — causing a build-up of the lint," Fire Captain Michael Buffum said.
The risk goes beyond the lint catcher. Check the slot that holds the lint trap and areas around it. You'll also need to vacuum the back of your dryer. The hose should be regularly cleaned because it can also trap lint.
If you live in an apartment complex building management is responsible for cleaning dryer ventilation. If you are the homeowner it’s up to you.