BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Cold weather and the holidays could lead to an increase in fires in the Northwest Arkansas area.

Andy Meeker, a firefighter at the Rogers and Avoca Fire and Rescue Department, says he sees a lot of chimney flue fires in the wintertime. 

“A lot of times, some people get lucky where it just stays in the flue, and we can get it put out that way. But, a lot of times it’ll go out into the attic and burn a hole through the flue into the attic, and it’ll cause an attic fire. And, normally that can destroy a whole home fairly quick,” Meeker said. 

He says if you have a fireplace that has a flue, you should clean it so that a fire doesn’t happen.

A flue allows the gas from a heating appliance or fireplace to safely exit the home.

He also says to make sure you have batteries installed in smoke detectors.

“It’ll smell smoke a lot of times before you can even smell smoke, especially if it’s in a different room,” Meeker said.

Meeker says he sees a lot of space heater fires during the season.

“That’s where people keep their space heaters too close to objects, and they have the older style where if they tip over, they will keep running and it’ll end. It could end up catching a blanket on fire,” Meeker said. 

Space heaters should not be plugged into a power strip according to Brian Ervin, assistant chief for the Avoca Fire and Rescue Department.

“The power strip cannot handle the load of a space heater,” Ervin said. 

He says it also should not be used on carpets. 

Some people may use heated blankets instead of space heaters, but there are still some precautions you should follow. 

Ervin says you shouldn’t turn the heated blanket to the highest setting or fall asleep with it on. Otherwise, it can cause burns.

He also says you should make sure you have blankets and a phone charger in your car during the winter just in case the car breaks down because “you never know if you’re stuck on Interstate 49 waiting for a tow truck to come get you.” 

Cold weather also means the holiday season is near and some people may be frying a turkey for the first time. 

If you don’t do it right, that can lead to a grease fire.

“What happens is, they’re filling the oil too high. And so, when they’re dipping that turkey in, it overflows and that’s what catches it on fire,” Ervin said. 

Meeker suggests you should fry your turkey outside and make sure it’s away from flammables and completely thawed. 

He says having frozen turkey in oil can cause the oil to boil out and start a fire, and when you drop the turkey in the deep fryer, turn the fire off and relight it once it’s in there. 

If a grease fire does happen, do not put water on it. Instead, place a towel or lid over it to take the oxygen away or use a fire extinguisher. 

Another tip that Ervin shared is blowing out candles before going to bed and do not place it on any type of wood. 

He also recommends changing the batteries in fire alarms, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year.