It’s cold! Time to turn up the heat … safely

ALBERTVILLE, Ala. -- It's cold! That means you're cranking up the heat. Firefighters see all kinds of alternative heating methods and they say some can cause problems.

Firefighters can count on it: when it gets cold they'll respond to house fires that start because of heating sources. "Half of the house fires involving heating sources happen during the months of December, January, and February each year," said Albertville Fire Assistant Chief Jason Beam.

It comes down to using heating devices the right way. A lot of people turn to space heaters but fire officials say sometimes people don't use extension cords with them properly, and that can cause a house fire. Keep it in a three-foot safety zone, and use the cord that comes with it plugged it right into the outlet. "If you can't, at least get an extension cord that is the same size, if not one size bigger than what is rated for that heating appliance," Beam said. Also, don't leave them unattended. "If you leave the room you need to cut them off. If you go to bed you need to cut them off."

Firefighters see people who use ovens to keep warm, but that's not safe either. "Heating elements burn up, they short out, and that causes a structure fire."

Another thing to remember - "If you're using any heat source other than electrical that uses a fuel you need a carbon monoxide detector."

It's  important to keep furniture away from wall heaters. Also, have your chimney checked before you light a fire, and again during the season if you use the fireplace frequently.