As we continue to experience dangerously cold temperatures, emergency officials here in Wisconsin are urging people to continue to stay vigilant when it comes to heating your homes, in order to keep you and your loved ones safe.
"People have been forced to sort of go to an unconventional way to heat their homes," said Dan Tyke, Battalion Chief with North Shore Fire Rescue.
During the cold winter months, North Shore Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Dan Tyke says the amount of calls the department gets for heat-related fires is almost always constant.
"We are seeing some increase in chimney fires, and certainly an increase in carbon monoxide related alarms," said Tyke.
As temperatures continue to drop, emergency officials say the way you go about heating your home could is critical to you and your family's safety.
"We are seeing people resort to using an oven or stove or maybe a construction heater that isn't designed to be used in an enclosed home. Some of those unconventional ways to heat your homes are not only a fire hazard, but also creates a very dangerous situation with carbon monoxide," said Tyke.
Instead, families are encouraged to use the furnace in their homes for heat. But if you decide to use a space heater or fireplace, making sure flammable objects are as far away as possible from those heating sources is key.
"We recommend that you have that annual maintenance through an HVAC provider to make sure that your furnace is working properly, that you don't have any issues there so that you can use that reliably through the season. Make sure if you have that fire that it's not unattended, stay in the room with it, and when you're done with your fire for the night you should shut it down properly" said Battalion Chief for Milwaukee Fire Department, Schuyler Belott.
Most importantly officials say you should always be prepared and have an emergency kit on hand just in case.
"An extra backpack or a grocery bag that you load up with a blanket if you have an extra battery charger for your cell phone in the event that you would get stranded somewhere," said Tyke.
If you have an electric blanket, emergency officials say do not take the risk of using it while you're sleeping. Just simply turn it off and keep it out of the hands of children and away from pets.