Big Bear Valley, CA, December 13, 2012 - As the temperatures drop during the winter months, local fire agencies want to suggest some safety tips that can help reduce the risk of home heating fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of all home-heating fires occur during the winter months. You can reduce the likelihood of having a home heating fire by taking some simple precautions and using heating equipment properly. Use a sturdy fireplace screen to keep sparks from flying into the room. Keep rugs and other combustible materials at least three feet from floor furnaces and space heaters, and turn portable heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room. Never plug portable heaters into an extension cord or multi-plug adapter. Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home (and replace smoke alarm batteries each year). Never use an oven to heat your home. When disposing of ashes, first allow them to cool, then place in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid, and keep at least 10 feet from the home and other combustible materials.Never place ashes in a box or bag. Also, never burn Christmas trees in a fireplace or wood stove, as they burn too fast and could be explosive. For questions regarding home heating safety, contact your local fire department.