Fire Safety: how to stay warm, safe during cold weather

MEMPHIS, Tenn. β€” These dangerously cold temperatures often mean people do whatever it takes to warm their homes.

From rigging up old heaters, to using the oven - firefighters say putting comfort before safety can be deadly.

Staying warm in this cold weather can be a tough task if your home is hard to heat.

"As temperatures fall, people look for alternative heating sources," Brent Perkins, with the Shelby County Fire Department, said. "As those start to come to play, safety kind of gets put on the back burner to comfort."

This time of year firefighters battle all sorts of blazes that were started by things, like the improper us of space heaters.

"Trying to heat your home with a space heater that is old and not functioning properly is not a good idea," Perkins said.

Perkins says space heaters should also be three feet away from anything that's combustible.

Materials like blankets and curtains can easily catch fire, and don't forget to turn off your space heater when you leave the room.

Perkins says be careful when connecting space heaters to extension cords as well.

"Well, often they pick an extension cord that is not rated for that much of a current load. As a result, you'll end up with an overheated extension cord and a possible fire."

Perkins also has a few other safety tips to consider.

"Don't run extension cords under carpeting, don't try to heat your home with your stove and don't bring charcoal and use it in your fireplace. These are things that are potential dangers and possible killers."

He says it's critical for families to keep that in mind, so that they don't ignore common sense steps that can keep them safe.

"Don't be complacent. Don't take the 'it won't happen to me' attitude," Perkins said.

Now is also a good time to make sure your smoke detectors are working properly.

You can also develop a fire escape plan if you don't have one.

If you plan to purchase a portable space heater, look for one with an automatic shut off safety feature.