ST. LOUIS – As the chill of fall settles in, we want to stay cozy and warm. However, it also raises our risk of fires. October 9–15, 2022, is nationally recognized as Fire Prevention Week and Ameren Missouri urges customers to look for possible safety hazards inside and outside of homes.

“You see an increase in the number of fires from October through February/March due to the use of more space heaters, more electrical equipment. We’re inside, so we’re plugging more things in,” said Tim Frankenberg, Ameren Fire Protection Engineer.

Space heaters can take the chill out of a room, but are meant for temporary use.

“It’s not something really meant to heat the whole house. Or heat for extended periods of time,” Frankenberg said.

He recommended plugging the heaters directly into the wall and looking for a model that shuts off if it tips over.

“We don’t want it coming in contact with drapes or some place where clothing can fall on top of them, heat things up, and possible cause a fire,” Frankenberg said.

Be sure to check electrical cords for fraying. Only plug one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time, and do not run extension cords under rugs or carpets.

“They can just start heating up and because that heat can’t get away from that cord, it’s going to continue to heat up,” Frankenberg said. “And it’s going to heat up what is around it. And eventually we see a fire that way.”

Make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and remember, they don’t last forever.

“On the back is a born on date. And it will tell you when that device was made. Just pop it off and look at the back. If it’s more than five years old, replace that device,” Frankenberg said.

As we wrap up outdoor projects before winter, be mindful of the location of power lines and other utilities. If using an extension cord, make sure it is approved for outdoor use. As we start to turn on natural gas appliances and fireplaces, watch for gas leaks. They sound like a high-pitched whistle or hissing, and they smell like rotten eggs. Call 911 if you suspect one.