This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The extreme cold moving in Thursday isn’t just a nuisance. It can also be deadly if not taken seriously. 

If you’re planning to drive anywhere or use a space heater during the winter storm this week, fire officials are asking the community to be extra careful to keep your loved ones safe.

According to the Kansas City Fire Department, space heaters are the leading cause of house fires and fire deaths from December through February. 

“People disobey it or don’t follow those rules, and that’s what causes those fires,” KCFD Battalion Chief Jermaine Kemp said. “We do understand you want to keep your kids safe, and you want to heat your house any means necessary, but just be aware that there are some dangers that come with those heating sources.”

He said if you’re going to use a space heater for extra warmth:

  • Leave at least 3 feet of space around the source to avoid any flammable items from catching fire.
  • Plug your space heater directly into a wall, not an extension cord.
  • Never leave a heater unattended.

Another big don’t is using an oven or other kitchen appliances to heat your home. Kemp said doing so may create a carbon monoxide danger for you and your family.

“They may fall asleep, and then there’s a danger in and of itself,” Kemp said. “People may not wake up.”

Kelly Hobbs, a firefighter and paramedic with Rescue 9, has seen firsthand the dangers that can happen when extreme cold hits.

“Hypothermia sets in very quickly, especially with the water as the cold temperatures,” Hobbs said. “Pets sometimes will stray out there, and people tend to go out their and rescue their pets and that creates a very large hazard.”

He said it may seem like a good idea to go out, but in an event like this storm, it’s rarely ever safe for your family.

“You know it’s Christmas time of year, people want to be around their friends and family and to appreciate that and you know not do anything out of the ordinary,” Hobbs said.

He said water rescues also put extra stress on fire crews’ already-limited resources and staff, so if you can stay at home and off the roads, plan to do so.

📲 Download the FOX4 News app to stay updated on the go.
📧 Sign up for FOX4 email alerts to have breaking news sent to your inbox.
💻 Find today’s top stories on for Kansas City and all of Kansas and Missouri.