BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — As the region prepares for single-digit temperatures, many families bring out space heaters.

Beckley Fire Department Lt. Chris Graham reminded people on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, to exercise caution when using the heaters.

Half of all home heating fires happen in December, January and February, and experts reported using a space heater is the leading cause of cold weather home fires.

“You just want to be really careful this time of year,” he said. “The winds are going to be whipping this weekend, and if something does catch fire, it will spread really quickly.”

“Be sure and keep heaters and everything away from furniture and curtains,” Graham added. “Keep kids and pets away from heaters as well because they can knock one over, something like that, and get burned.”

Safety experts advise not to use extension cords with space heaters and not to sleep with a space heater running. Those who choose to use a space heater at bedtime should make sure the heater is a model that will automatically turn off if it overheats.

It should also be put in a place where it will not fall over, away from clothing, bed covers and other flammable items.

A carbon monoxide detector should be used with any form of fuel or gas heat, including space heater models.

Firefighters said Christmas trees and candle decorations are also a fire risk in December. They advised homeowners to put out candles and to turn off Christmas tree lights at night and when leaving the house.

While the number of house fires has decreased, the rate of house fire deaths has not, according to firefighters.

Beckley Fire Department urges everyone to develop an escape plan, in case of fire, and to make sure everyone in the house knows the plan.