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As cold weather settles in the Aiken County area, residents are reminded to use caution when heating their homes. 

As colder temperatures begin to settle in the Aiken County area, residents are reminded to be aware of fire dangers when heating up their homes.

Heating a home is one of the leading causes of house fires, according to the American Red Cross. Almost half of the families in the United States use space heaters, fireplaces or coal or wood stoves to stay warm.

The threat of a house fire, which are most often caused by cooking and heating equipment, increases with the holidays and cold weather, according to a news release from the American Red Cross.

The organization responds to an average of about 62,000 disasters, the vast majority of which are home fires.

On average, seven people die every day from a home fire, most impacting children and the elderly, according to the Red Cross. Thirty-six people suffer injuries as a result of house fires each day.

The Red Cross offers the following safety tips:

1. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

2. Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least 3 feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.

3. Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.

4. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

5. Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as ceramic tile floor, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.

6. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

7. When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.

8. Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

9. Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.

10. Other safety steps: Check electrical appliances before you leave home. Do not leave food cooking on the stove. Blow out candles before going to bed. Do not overload electrical outlets.

Capt. David Turno with the Aiken Department of Public Safety reminds residents to check their smoke detector batteries.

The Red Cross asks everyone to install smoke alarms on every level of their home, especially inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.

Turno also encourages households to have a fire evacuation plan that includes ways to get out of every room and selecting a meeting spot a safe distance away from your home.

"Get out, stay out and call 911," Turno said. "Keep a fire extinguisher handy so that if you have a small fire you have a way to put it out. What we're taught is to have a plan and to be as fire safe as possible."

For more information on home fire safety, visit or download the free Red Cross Emergency app.

Matthew Enfinger is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_enfinger