OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Fall is in the air!

As cooler temperatures start flooding the state, experts say now is the time to prepare your house for hazards and risks associated with the season.

Home fires and related injuries increase in the fall with the use of candles, space heaters, stoves for cooking, and fireplaces to keep warm.

Officials say now is the time to make sure your home’s heating system is working properly. Seasonal inspections are always a good idea, and proper maintenance protects your family from avoidable fires.

According to the Oklahoma Insurance Department, insurance companies paid out over $1.3 billion in claims for fire-related damages nationwide last year.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready created the following tips to prepare for cooler temperatures:

Inside Your Home 

  • Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. 
  • Clean fireplaces and chimneys. 
  • Install fire extinguishers in your home. 
  • Keep flammable objects away from furnaces, fireplaces and other heating units. 
  • Never leave burning candles or items on the stove unattended. 
  • Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, but it can also be a source of potentially toxic fumes. 

Outside Your Home 

  • Remove dead leaves and other debris around the house and from the roof.
  • Clean or replace the furnace filter and clean the entire furnace area to remove debris. 
  • Have heating units inspected by a licensed contractor. 
  • Never discard hot ashes near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.

Many fire departments offer free smoke detectors and batteries to residents who need it.