Colder temperatures and a poor economy may’ve led some Iowans to seek to heat their homes in some unsafe ways. State Fire Marshal Jim Kenkel said this week there has already been a problem with faulty heaters. He says there were three heating-related fatalities in 2008. He says it remains a concern in this new year as people continue to seek ways to stay warm.

Kenkel says it will continue to be a potential problem as people use space heaters, kerosene heaters and wood stoves, and some people have even tried to make their own wood stoves. Kenkel says they advise against homemade heaters, and says you should get one that’s U-L (Underwriters Lab) approved, and properly installed.

Even if you purchase a reliable safe heater, Kenkel says it can still pose a danger if not used properly. Kenkel says don’t push the heaters to close to things that might catch fire and be sure pets and kids won’t knock them over and start a fire. Kenkel said Tuesday there have been 47 confirmed fire deaths in the state this year, and one more that may be put in that category pending test results.