Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Department has put out four structure fires so far this year.

That’s the same number as this time last year, said Battalion Chief Ryan Floersheim.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more home fires happen in winter than any other time, with half of home heating-related fires in December, January and February.

To keep these fires from happening to you, NFPA material provided by RRFR recommends turning off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.

Federal Emergency Management Agency material advises never using an extension cord with a heat-producing appliance, such as a space heather, coffee maker or microwave. Only one such appliance at a time should be plugged into a wall outlet.

“Extension cords should only be used temporarily,” according to FEMA. “Have an electrician install additional wall outlets where you need them.”

If the heat goes out during a winter storm, NFPA advises using extra layers of clothes or blankets to stay warm. Emergency heat sources should be kept at least 3 feet away from anything that could catch fire.

Generators should be run outside, away from windows and doors, and never in a garage, even if the door is open, according to NFPA.

The association recommends having flashlights on hand in case of a power outage, as well as other battery-powered lighting and fresh batteries.

“Never use candles,” the material says.

People should have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their homes and test them at least monthly, according to NFPA.

In case of an emergency, individuals should plan two ways out of their houses. They should make sure the house number is visible from the street so firefighters can find it, as well as clearing the driveway and front walk of ice and snow for easy access.

The association recommends staying aware of winter weather by monitoring television, radio or internet sites for updates. Also, people should check on their neighbors and anyone else who may need help, according to NFPA.