As temperatures continue to drop, the risk for fire-related deaths is on the rise.

January and February are deemed the most deadly months due to the frigid temperatures. People reach for space heaters or light fireplaces for extra warmth. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), when temperatures drop below 15°F, structure fires are twice as likely to occur. 

“Fire safety isn’t seasonal, but winter brings its own hazards and safety concerns,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “By taking a few simple precautions now such as checking your smoke alarms to ensure they’re working and having a fire escape plan, Tennesseans can help keep their families fire-safe all winter.”

When using a space heater, keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from space heaters, and turn them off when leaving your home or going to bed. Never use your oven to heat your home. 

If you are using a wood-burning stove, make sure your stove is listed by a qualified testing laboratory prior to use. Burn only dry seasoned wood, place stoves on non-combustible/fire-resistant surfaces, let ashes cool and remove those ashes regularly, and inspect your wood-burning stove for any flaws. 

If you're a smoker, make sure to smoke outside. Keep lighters and matches away from children, and dispose of your cigarettes properly - not in mulch, potted plants, landscaping, trash cans, or other things that can ignite easily. Also, another thing to keep in mind, do not smoke where medical oxygen is present as they are combustible. 

To protect you and your family, replace smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older, and replace batteries regularly. Smoke alarms should be placed inside and outside sleeping areas in addition to every level of your home. To have smoke alarms properly installed, contact your local fire department. 

Preparation is always key to safety. Download a free grid to make a fire escape plan of your home for your family in the event of a fire. 

For more information on fire safety tips, visit Tennesse.gov.