As we head into the colder months, we unfortunately usually see an increase in house fires. However, there are some things you can do to help protect your home and your family this winter.

As the temperatures drop over the next few months, Erie residents will use many appliances to keep their homes warm: such as furnaces or space heaters.

If you are using a furnace, Dave Straub, the general manager of Nerthling’s Heating and Air Conditioning, said it is imperative to keep them maintained.

“Gas appliance, people don’t realize that there could be gas leaks in the house. They usually smell it first but there could be problems before that even happens,” said Straub.

He added people using space heaters should be mindful of where they are placing the appliance.

“You want to make sure it has a thermostatic control on it so it’s not on 24/7. Three feet apart from anything, no drapes around there and people use them a lot for the bedroom, which is the worst place to put them, but that’s where you want to be the warmest,” said Straub.

Donald Sauer, the chief fire inspector for the City of Erie, said space heaters should be used as instructed.

“You always want to plug them in directly into a wall receptacle, not an extension cord or a power strip. You want to use the heater with the manufacturing recommendations,” said Chief Sauer.

Sauer recommended families have a plan in place just in case the unthinkable happens.

“Everybody should practice fire drills at home and make sure your kids know where you want them to go in case there’s an incident, whether it be the tree in front of the neighbor’s house or the mailbox if it’s out by the road,” he added.

Straub also recommended checking your chimney and having it serviced as necessary as it is also considered part of an electrical appliance.