DES MOINES (WHO) — During the winter fires are more common and many of them are started due to people misusing electronics.

Ahman Douglass, a Firefighter with the Des Moines Fire Department, said that space heaters can cause fires if not used properly.

“When talking about space heaters we never want to leave them unattended and we definitely want to make sure we have plenty of space around them,” Douglass said. “We want to keep children and pets away from them you know we’re finding a lot of times that these things are being knocked over accidentally by just people and animals moving about and sometimes that’s causing these fires that can and should have been prevented.”

If a space heater ever trips an electrical circuit breaker then it needs to be disposed of. Turning the breaker back on and leaving the space heater plugged in can lead to fires.

Douglass also said that in addition to fire prevention it’s important to prepare for if a fire does happen.

“Escape plans are very important everyone in the household should take part in practicing the escape plan twice a year at a minimum,” Douglass said.

Families should have escape plans for when there is a fire which means talking through all of the exits of the house and designating a meeting spot for once they exit the home. It’s also important to never go back into the house under any circumstances.

Douglass said that when practicing escape plans families should treat it like there is a real fire.

“When practicing the escape plan crawl. Remember were not going to be walking upright if our house is on fire were not looking around through all that smoke so let’s practice the crawl. Let’s roll out of bed lets do what we have to, let’s put our hands on the back of that bedroom door because that’s what we’re sleeping with that bedroom door is closed were gonna simulate hey this isn’t hot to the touch so now it’s safe to open the door look down the hall whatever it’s going to take and get to that exit,” Douglass said.

To learn more about how to protect your home from house fires visit the Des Moines Fire Department’s website.