Old Man Winter can be real bear of a house guest.

He often arrives with little warning, and is famous for overstaying his welcome.

Rest assured he will be back soon—if he hasn’t begun to make his presence known already.  So now is the time to make sure his stay is a bit more hospitable this year.

The key to a more manageable winter is to prepare your home for the challenges early. Being proactive will not only keep you warm for less money, but also to keep you safe. As temperatures drop, fire risk goes up. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, half of all home heating fires occur in the months of December, January and February. And heating equipment is the cause of one in every six of those fires.

To that end, here are some tips for keeping the inside of your home warm, safe and dry during this winter’s hibernation.

Weatherize Windows and Doors: Cold air loves to slither through windows and doors, sending everyone shivering—and your heating bills through the roof. Combat the chill by checking and replacing any worn weather stripping, and caulking any cracks.

Fireplace vs. Fire Hazard: Check your fireplace and flue system to ensure that it’s clean of any soot or ashes and that there aren’t any cracks that could be a fire hazard. Also, check the fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be need to be repaired or replaced.

Check your Heating System: It’s a good idea to make a furnace cleaning-and-check by a professional a yearly habit to ensure that the furnace is heating efficiently and safely. If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs. Also, as convenient as they are, try to limit the amount of time you use space heaters. Space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires and 80 percent of all winter heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Block the drafts: Cold air will take advantage of any opportunity to sneak into your home. Place foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce airflow. Check for exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks or cracks that invite the outside air in.

Safety First: While you’re in the process of prepping your house for the long winter, check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. Also, with the increased risk of fire in winter, it’s important to have a family escape plan. You can create one using the National Fire Prevention Association’s online guide.

Now that you have the inside of your house ready for hibernation, it’s time to venture outside to make sure the exterior of your home is braced for winter. Check out our other tips.