Firefighters in Wentzville responded to an all too familiar call late Wednesday morning.

“All signs are pointing to a space heater left on,” said firefighter John Schneider.

The house fire off Old 61 didn’t hurt anyone or cause much damage, but it remains an example of what area firefighters would like to avoid this winter.

“People get very creative when they’re cold," Schneider said, "but a lot of times their choices aren’t the safest.”

Often, people turn to space heaters to stay warm or when they cannot afford their utility bills, but they are reported to be the cause behind 80 percent of home heating deaths.

So when it comes to that choice, Tim Geiss, a firefighter/paramedic with West County Fire & EMS said space heaters must remain a secondary heating source.

He recommended that users only plug them into a wall, and not into a surge protector.

“They can overload a surge protector. Some units use a lot of electricity and so you can overheat them. And obviously surge protectors are made of plastic,” he said.

But above all, firefighters said space heater need to be kept at least three feet away from anything that can catch fire. And they want users to remember to turn them off and unplug them when you leave the room.

That goes for even when you’re asleep.

“A lot can happen when you leave the room,” Geiss said.

Schneider added, “We understand you’re going to want that as close to you as possible while they’re sleeping, but that radiant heat and the fabric in blankets made these days do not play well together.”

And if you or someone you know needs space heaters because you can’t afford your heating bill, the Urban League of St. Louis is one resources available to the community. It offers utility assistance year-round.