Improper use of or poorly maintained heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires and home fire deaths across the country.

With a few simple safety tips and precautions, you can prevent most heating fires from happening.

Cal Fire offers the following fire safety tips:

- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment such as a furnace, fireplace, woodstove or portable space heater.

- Have a 3-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters, and always turn portable heaters off when leaving a room or going to bed.

- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent sparks from escaping.

- Allow fireplace ashes to completely cool before disposing of them. Place them in a tightly covered metal container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty fireplace or woodstove ashes directly into a trash can.

- Never use your oven to heat your home, and if using fossil fuel heating, install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your home has working smoke alarms as well.

For more information on safe home heating visit the Cal Fire website at

- Cal Fire