GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - When temperatures drop, the threat of home fires rises as people turn to heaters and fireplaces to battle the cold.
There is an increase in the number of house fires during the winter months, and fire officials say heating safety awareness is important.
"We see a small up tick in the number of fires as the heating systems come on line for the year," said Gulfport Fire Chief Michael Beyerstadt.
Space heaters can be particularly hazardous if not used correctly.
"Make sure the space heater is not using an extension cord. Make sure you don't have combustibles right up against it," according to Beyerstadt.
According to State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney, too many fires and fire deaths in Mississippi are caused by faulty heating equipment or people using ill advised methods to stay warm.
The Fire Marshal's office recommends some basic heating fire safety tips:
- Never use space heaters while you you sleep, or in areas where children may be without adult supervision
- Do not leave space heaters on when you are away from home
- Never use a stove or oven to heat living spaces
- Make sure chimney flues have been cleaned and inspected
- Have an emergency evacuation plan for the family to follow in case of a fire
"So have that plan and have a meeting place. That's a good step. Make sure you have working smoke alarms, that's the number one thing you can do to prevent from dying is a fire is to have a working fire alarm," said Chief Beyerstadt.