HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – The valley is expected to see more cold temperatures later this week. Some residents rely on space heaters in order to keep their homes warm during the winter. The Harlingen Fire Department is urging people to use caution when turning their heaters as the temperatures drop outside.

“When the cold weather does occur the percentage of fire occurring due to space heaters does go up,” said Fire Marshal Juan Sauceda Jr. “But our first task is go out there and gather the information whether it is the electrical or the appliance.”

According to the American Red Cross, space heaters are the second leading cause of house fires during the winter months. Since Jan 1. fire departments across Texas have already responded to more than 70 house fires.

The American Red Cross have also provided tips on how to safely heat your home, and include the following:

  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes; keep away children and pets.
  • Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets — never an extension cord. Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Never leave a fire burning in the fireplace unattended. Make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.

The Harlingen Fire Department also urges that keeping your space heater attended is the biggest safety measure in preventing a house fire.

“Don’t leave them unattended, don’t leave them on for a long period of time,” Sauceda said. ” Watch out for children and pets that that can tip it over, it is supposed to have a safety feature from the factory that if it does tips over it should turn off. But remember when it tips over it should still be hot to the touch, and you don’t know where it is going to fall, and it could ignite.”

Lastly, HFD urges people to make sure their homes have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.