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SWEETWATER COUNTY – With winter quickly approaching and the temperature beginning to drop, many people are starting to heat their homes more often.

However, the rate of house fires also rises during this time of year.

Rock Springs fire chief Jim Wamsley said that a lot of house fires happen during winter time compared to other times of the year because of all of the heating units that are used.

“During the winter months, people start using their heating units that go unused for the rest of the year,” Wamsley said. “Heating units need to be checked before using them to reduce the risk it leading to a fire.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, heating is the second leading cause of house fires.

Wamsley said that the public should inspect any type of heating unit they use to ensure the safety of those in the home.

“Those who use central heating systems need to make sure that they get their annual maintenance check. They also need to change their heating system filters,” Wamsley said. “The filters need to be changed about once a month.”

Wamsley also said that anyone using a fireplace to heat their home needs to make sure that the chimney is cleaned.

The U.S. Fire Administration says that a glass or metal screen should be kept in front of it to keep sparks or embers from jumping out.

It is also suggested that paper shouldn’t be burned in a fireplace, and ash needs to be kept in a metal container outside, at least three feet from the home.

For anyone using space heaters, Wamsley said that they need to be plugged into a proper power source.

“When using space heaters to heat your home, you always want to plug it directly into a wall outlet. You should never plug it into a power strip or extension cord. Nothing else should be plugged into the same circuit as the space heater. It can lead to overheating.”

Wamsley said that using the right type of space heaters to heat a home is crucial.

“Never use a kerosene or propane-fueled space heater that is meant to be used outdoors in your home. It can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide.”

“There are certain kerosene space heaters that are safe to use in homes, but you should still be very careful when using them.”

Wamsley said that when adding fuel to the space heater, always make sure that it turned off.

“Several hundred people a year are burned due to fueling them improperly.”

When using a space heater, the U.S. Fire administration suggests that it be kept on a solid, flat surface. It should also be kept at least three feet away from things that can burn.

When in use, it should be turned off before leaving a room or going to sleep.

Before purchasing one, make sure it has an automatic shut-off. If it tips over, the space heater will shut itself off.

So, before it’s too late, make sure to make the appointments to have the proper inspections in order to stay warm safely during the winter season.

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