Officials share fire safety tips ahead of the holiday season

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As we enter the winter months, safety remains at top of mind for local fire departments.

The Wauwatosa Fire Department told CBS 58 they usually see an increase in calls for in-home fires and carbon monoxide detection during colder months.

Winter often means more use of furnaces, fireplaces, general electricity, and candles.

Wauwatosa's fire marshal and assistant chief, Barbara Kadrich, warns candles in particular are the culprit of one-third of home decor fires.

Several holidays use candles as a form of decoration and celebration, and Kadrich reminds not to leave them unattended or burning near flammable items, like curtains.

As for electrical fires, Kadrich warns not to overload outlets, and to regularly water real Christmas trees.

As the heaters kick in, make sure your furnace is cleaned and working properly.

A big fire concern in the winter comes with the use of space heaters. If you must use one, use one with auto shut-off, and keep it at least three-feet away from anything flammable.

Kadrich also said not to use an extension cord for portable/space heaters.

Kadrich said most fires during winter are caused by human error.

"The main culprit is usually an accidental cause, where people aren't informed, whether it's with unattended candles or space heaters that they leave running in a room. Electrical fires are also still common, because we tend to use more of our electricity or plugging things in in the winter," Kadrich said on Monday.

It's always important to make sure you have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on every floor, and in sleeping areas.

Kadrich said the National Fire Protection Association has recently updated guidelines, recommending smoke detectors inside bedrooms, rather than just in hallways.

Local fire departments can help with safety checks and distribute working detectors.

Kadrich also recommends families make a fire evacuation plan for their home.

You can learn more on the NFPA website.

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