Fire prevention officials are reminding Wyoming residents to heat their homes safely this winter. Fire prevention officers with Casper Fire-EMS say half of all home heating fires nationally tend to occur in December, January and February.

Casper Fire-EMS fire prevention spokesperson Justin Smith says homeowners and residents must monitor their surroundings proactively.

“You need to make sure you maintain a three foot clearance from any kind of heating equipment, regardless of what type,” Smith said. “That’s especially true for space heaters – they attribute to a lot of fires in homes, and that’s usually due to improper use or having things too close to them.”

Smith says additional guidelines should be kept in mind when using wood-burning home heating appliances.

“When it comes to solid fuel-burning appliances like wood stoves, we need to make sure that we’re using dried firewood,” Smith said. “Not trash, and not anything that’s not intended to go in there like dimensional lumber and scraps.”

Fire officials say space heaters can cause significant problems when unmonitored. Smith recommends only using space heaters with built-in automatic shut-off technology. He also recommends all space heaters be plugged directly into wall outlets.

Casper Fire-EMS also urges residents to not use ovens for heating purposes.