WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As the weather turns cooler, fire officials are sounding a seasonal alarm. They’re giving a timely reminder about the importance of safely using a space heater.

Many people may pull out a space heat to help heat up a room, but they can be dangerous if not used properly.

Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney says heating devices are the number one cause of winter home fires.

“We have not had any so far this year, but rest assured there will be one or two fires this winter heating season due to space heaters,” predicted Delaney.

With overnight temperatures dropping into the 20s this weekend. Many may break out an electric space heater to stay warm.

But how can you be sure you’re using one safely? If you are going to use a space heater, use it properly.

Chief Delaney says space heaters should never be the primary heat source for a house. Why? Well, a space heater draws a lot of power.

“They use a lot of amperage and wattage,” explained Delaney.

Keep space heaters at least three feet away from any combustible items, and make sure it’s plugged directly into the wall outlet.

“So the three things not to use, do not use an extension cord, it’s a low gauge wire, this is what you don’t want to use. You don’t want to use a device like that. And you absolutely don’t want to use a device like that, that started a fire,” instructed Delaney.

Also, never leave a space heater unattended.

Chief Delaney says while it’s important to use a space heater properly, it’s also critical to check your smoke alarm at least once a month throughout the year.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February.

If you have any questions on what smoke alarms you should buy or how to properly install them, contact your local fire department.