WACO, Texas — A National Fire Protection Association report shows 48 percent of all house fires are caused by home heating equipment, second behind only cooking.
"The same holds true for both cooking and heating, which is that the leading cause of cooking fires and heating fires is unattended equipment," NFPA Communications Manager Susan McKelvey told 25 News. "It sounds so basic but can make such a critical difference."
While the number of house fires has dropped dramatically over the years, heating equipment is still a concern both nationwide and locally.
"Any time it gets cold, we get concerned about the health and wellbeing of the citizens we serve" Santos Soto with Temple Fire and Rescue said.
Experts say the biggest factor for heating equipment fires is space heaters. The most important tip they can offer to safely have a space heater is to keep it at least three feet away from any combustible items.
"You want to keep a three-foot safety perimeter around your space heater," Waco Fire's Keith Guillory said. "You want to keep children and pets away from your space heaters, they can knock them over. And you want to have that automatic device that's on space heaters. If they do knock over, the space heater will shut off."
Another important step to safely warm your home is to get your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
"It seems to be one of those things that people forget about," Soto said. "We just like to remind people to take care of that and keep yourself safe when burning a fireplace."
Firefighters also recommend you keep generators outside of your home and garage and never use an oven or stove to warm the house. They all bring a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
"What happens there is carbon monoxide connects to your bloodstream and stops the blood from processing oxygen," Guillory said. "This is why the person gets those feeling of dizziness and they want to go lay down. What happens is they go lay down and never wake up."
Guillory also said this is a great time to test both your carbon monoxide and fire alarms to make sure they work.