Cold days seem to be here to stay, and as many of us fight the freezing temperatures in our homes or even at work, smart safety tips could mean the difference of life or death this winter.

Half of home heating fires are reported each year in December, January and February, and heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Many of us turn to portable heaters, electric blankets, or space heaters as an alternative to cranking up the heat in our homes when temperatures begin to plumit. Practicing these safety tips and using these heating tools properly will ensure the safety of everyone in your home.

Maintain safe distances from heaters and fire places at all times. Keep anything that will burn at least three feet away from furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, portable heaters, or other heating equipment.

Never use an oven to heat the home. Have a qualified professional install stationary heating equipment like water heaters or central units, which should be installed according to local codes and the manufacturer’s instructions.

Have heating equipment or chimneys cleaned and checked by a professional each year. Remember to turn space heaters or heated blankets off after extended periods of time, and never leave the room or drift off while this type of heating equipment is in use.

Test smoke alarms once a month. If you use gas heaters in your home, it’s also a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors and monitor those as you would a smoke detector each month.

With these safety tips in mind, cozy up and keep warm at home this winter. We have just a few more months until spring!

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