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Turn up the heat: How to safely keep your home warm this winter

Fireplaces, furnaces and space heaters are great appliances to keep warm but they can also pose fire risks.

BOISE — With temperatures cooling, it’s about that time of year when many of us crank up the heat inside our homes, if we haven't already.

Unfortunately, every year home heating appliances will spark a fire.

"About half of all of our home heating fires start in December, January and February so October and November are a great time to be prepared for that," said Deputy Chief Romeo Gervais, Boise Fire Department.

Part of being prepared means calling a professional to check out your appliances once a year.

This includes a chimney sweep.

"If the masonry is kind of falling apart or failing, what it can do is allow that heat and the smoke and stuff to get into the wood and frame of your house and actually catch it on fire," Gervais said. "We see that happen usually a few times a year."

"Make sure it hasn't been plugged up by squirrels and birds or soot or what not to make sure that it is going to be safe," added Michael Sweet, Capital City Heating and Cooling.

Sweet says getting furnaces inspected is just as important.

"I was just at a customer’s house yesterday and he swore up and down that he needed a new furnace, he did not but it would not run," Sweet said. "So, we grabbed the wire, moved it a little bit and he had a short inside his wall that was burning his wall and he never saw, never smelled, and it was a short on the high-voltage line."

If you use a space heater, keep a three-feet clear zone around it to prevent it from catching fire.

"Make sure that they have electric space heaters that when they fall over they shut off," Sweet said.

"A space heater plugged directly into an outlet not into an extension cord, often times we can overload those extension cords if we plug space heaters into them," added Gervais.

A working smoke detector and carbon monoxide meter could also save your life in the event your home does catch fire.

"Getting that maintenance done early and at least once a year is a good idea," Sweet said.