NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark – All eyes will be on the power lines with another round of winter weather headed for central Arkansas, and if power goes out, local fire departments say they want people to be prepared with ways to stay warm and stay safe.

Assistant Fire Marshal Dustin Free with the North Little Rock Fire Department said it’s “all about pre-planning” to keep residents safe, noting a lack of preparation is what firefighters up and out the door.

“The fire department has to make sure we’re ready to respond,” Free said.

Free said every year there are fires that happen simply because people use their household appliances improperly.

“Stoves and ovens are not made to heat buildings, they’re made to cook with,” Free said.

In a time of darkness, Free said residents not to reach for the first thing with a little bit of heat, including fireplaces. He advised if you haven’t had your fireplace inspected in the last year, stay away from lighting it this week.

“You never know what kind of soot it has built up on what’s inside the chimney space,” Free said, adding that a small spark could turn into a big problem. “If you know now that you don’t have a good heat source in your home in the event the power goes out, now is the time to preplan.”

Free said some safe ways to stay warm include generators and propane space heaters, as long as they’re a safe distance from flammable items.

He also said people can also make arrangements to stay with a friend or elsewhere where they know there are safe heat sources.

“If you don’t have that, it’s time to bundle up,” Free added.

The fire department is urging people to think smart about heating their houses.

Crews say the icy roads double or triple the amount of time it takes for fire crews to arrive at the scene, and in the case of a blaze, every second counts.