WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Energy prices are expected to rise this winter and some people may be looking for other sources of heat to avoid that high energy bill. However, fire officials are reminding homeowners to practice safety when heating their home.

You may be thinking it’s time to use the fireplace, especially after taking a look at your energy bill this winter. But before you do, local fire departments are reminding you to keep warm and keep safe.

“If you are going to use an alternative heating source like a wood stove or a space heater, you want to follow all safety precautions,” said West Springfield Fire Lieutenant William Spear.

Here are some helpful tips from the State Fire Marshal to consider:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet from anything hot like a fireplace or furnace.
  • If you’re burning wood, pellets, or coal, make sure to have your chimney and flue professionally inspected and cleaned first.
  • When burning, use a screen to keep embers inside.
  • Remember that ashes can stay hot for days, so make sure to dispose of it properly.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • If you use a space heater, make sure that it’s listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Always plug it directly into a wall outlet and not an extension cord or power strip.
  • For fuel burning space heaters, always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

Don’t forget, no matter how you heat your home, always make sure that you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms on every level.

Proper use of a wood stove

  • Burn only dry, well season hardwood to reduce creosote accumulation. Creosote build-up is the cause of most chimney fires in homes.
  • Don’t use a flammable liquid to start a fire
  • Do not leave you children unattended near the stove.
  • Check to make sure the damper is open before starting a fire.
  • Install and maintain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
  • Use a metal bucket to clean the ashes from a stove after giving it a proper amount of time to cool down.