ST. CLOUD-- To help minimize the risks of winter, Stearns County has teamed up with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service for Winter Hazard Awareness Week.

We continue our series Wednesday with the topic of “Winter Fire Safety.” Stearns County Emergency Management Director Erin Hausauer says it’s important to be careful with heat sources used when the weather gets cold.

Before you use your fireplace, it's a good idea to have it serviced. [Remember] to not use space heaters, etc when you're not in the room or you're not at home. Those are things that are meant to be used with you in close proximity. Candles that are burning, remember to blow them out. They shouldn't be used to create a heat source.

She also says to be sure any open flames are kept out of reach of pets and children.

Previous winter awareness tips are available here: