Dear Heloise: I recently purchased an ELECTRIC DRYER. Before the deliveryman installed the new one, I vacuumed out the exhaust hose and was surprised to get a lot of lint. I noticed that the dryer did not completely dry the clothes on the setting I chose, so I tried another setting, with success.

I put in another load, and shortly after, I noticed a red light under the “check vent” option. My husband went outside and took the cap off the dryer vent, stuck his hand inside and pulled out compacted lint.

I truly was amazed, as I always clean the lint filter inside the dryer after each load.

The manual says to clean the exhaust hose every two years, but I recommend once a year to be safe. Since I was careful to clean the lint filter, I didn’t give the exhaust hose a thought. This could have started a fire. -- Sue W. in Ohio

Sue, thanks for the very important reminder! The National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org) tells us that the No. 1 cause of home dryer fires is due to dryers (mainly the lint filter and hose) not being cleaned. Here are some safety hints they suggest:

* Have a professional install the dryer.

* Clean the lint filter before or after EACH load of laundry you dry.

* If your dryer has plastic or foil accordion-style ducts/hoses, replace it with a rigid metal duct. (Heloise Here: Check right now!)

* Once a year, clean out the duct or hose completely.

* NEVER leave the dryer running when you are not home, or after you have gone to bed, especially if your bedroom is located far from the laundry room. -- Heloise

P.S.: How many of you have had a clothes dryer be the cause of a home fire?

HOME COOKING

Dear Heloise: My elderly parents didn’t want or need any more “things,” so my husband and I decided to give them dinners. We prepared meals such as stuffed peppers, pot roast, soups and stews. We gave the food to them to finish cooking when they wanted dinner. All they had to do was put it in the oven to roast it or heat it up on the stove. They really loved gifts like this, and it made their dinner so easy. -- Barb F., via e-mail

Sounds like a super supper to me! A wonderful hint. -- Heloise

CREATIVE WRAPPING

Dear Heloise: I needed to wrap a large box of pots and pans for my future daughter-in-law’s bridal shower. Being practical, and knowing that the couple would be renting an apartment, I used rolls of white shelf-lining paper, the kind with the adhesive on one side, to wrap the box. I didn’t remove the backing, of course.

The paper was carefully removed and folded. It was then used for lining cupboards and drawers. Well worth the cost of the paper, and no waste of normal wrapping paper. -- Amy T. in Michigan

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state.

, King Features Syndicate