NBCRightNow.com - As cooler temperatures move into the area, some people may be tempted to turn on their space heaters. However, firefighters want to remind you to use them safely and properly.
The United States Fire Administration says home heating is the second leading cause of residential fires in Washington state. The source of those fires are usually caused by portable space heaters.
In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports equipment used to heat homes caused more than 57,000 fires in 2010, resulting in 490 deaths.
Firefighters say space heaters are great when used properly.
"First thing you need to do with space heaters is to make sure it's rated for indoor use," said Captain Devin Hellend, Benton County Fire District 1. "You have space heaters out there that are out door-use for camping and for back yard patios that put off carbon monoxide. You leave those in your house with propane or kerosene... that could end in a very bad result."
Additional tips include:
Ensure heating units are placed in the center of a room (at least 3 feet away from anything that could catch fire)
Store heater on flat surface
Consider buying a unit that turns off automatically, incase it falls over
Never use a damaged space heater
Firefighters also say if you're turning on your furnace, for the first time, have it tuned and cleaned to avoid dust build-up and other potential hazards.