Temperatures are beginning to drop and the colder months are rapidly approaching. As a result, the Missoula Rural Fire District is offering tips to ensure that this winter is a safe one. According to Captain Ron Lubke, heating is the second leading cause of home fires.

“We would like to remind folks to check their stoves and their fire places ahead of time before they use them,” Lubke said. “Make sure you get them inspected. Clean your chimneys. If you have not used your fire place for a while you may not be thinking about it. Space heaters are a big concern for us. We want folks to make sure they are using safe equipment. You want to keep those space heaters away from anything combustible, at least three feet.”

Lubke says most space heaters have special safety features built in. Some are designed to turn off automatically if they ever get knocked over and several have timers that shut the heater off for you if you forget.

“We also encourage folks to check their furnaces and boilers, things of that nature, and make sure they are functioning properly,” Lubke said. “Check the filters on your furnaces and make sure that they are clean, replace them as necessary. Plugged furnace filters can cause the lower motor to overheat on a forced air furnace and can either lead to the furnace malfunctioning to where it won’t heat your house or it could lead to a fire.”

Lubke also encouraged everyone to interconnect their smoke detectors if they are not already interconnected.