NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Fire prevention is important even during the winter months.

Now that we’re seeing temperatures below freezing more often, many people are reaching for space heaters to warm up.

But it’s important to know how to properly use them.

First, you need to have them within eyesight, and only have one plugged into an area.

“They should not be left to run on their own. Like cooking appliances, space heaters should have a clear area all the way around them, at least three feet. And try to plug those directly into an outlet. Use of extension cords can add an element of danger,” said Stuart Hammer, the fire inspector for the Minot Fire Department.

There are a number of reasons that can lead to space heaters causing a fire.

“The coils inside those space heaters get extremely hot and a fan is used to blow the heat from those coils to heat the space around it. If something gets too close to those coils, a fire can be ignited that way. Extension cords can break down and so you can have an electrical issue so there’s multiple problems along the way,” Hammer added.

And with snow still piling up, it’s also important to clear your furnace vents and sewer pipes of snow and ice.

If you have a clogged sewer pipe, you will start to smell the problem in your home.

“You can hire someone to get up on the roof and clean like a sewer vent or you can run hot water and hope that the steam will actually create a vent or create a hole in that ice and allow the gas to escape,” said Hammer.

And when it comes to furnaces, you have to check them.

“When the furnace can’t get that air, your furnace won’t operate efficiently and won’t run and so you might have to look at those pipes and make sure they’re clear as well when we having blowing snow, to make sure everything operates,” said Hammer.

Something else to consider doing is removing the snow from around fire hydrants. It helps firefighters respond more quickly, which could help you in an emergency.

“We want a three-foot circle all the way around that and then a path from the street to the fire hydrant. And really what it comes down to is saving time if there is at your house or a neighbor’s house where that fire hydrant is used. Where the fire department can access that and are able to get what they need out of that fire hydrant immediately rather than having to move snow first,” said Hammer.

If you are a business owner, please take the time to ensure the hydrants in your area are also kept clear.

And with Thanksgiving coming up, many people may be leaving their homes for extended periods of time.

Hammer says don’t turn your heat down before you go away, because this could cause your sprinkler lines to freeze and when the heat comes back on, it could cause them to burst.