SAFE & SOUND: Extra Heat in Your Virginia Home

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Extra heat from fireplaces, wood stoves, and electric heaters is such a help when the outdoor temperature drops. And it becomes positively essential when there’s a winter power outage. And it’s no coincidence that almost half of all home fires occur in December, January, and February. Even a small chimney fire can have a costly impact; loss of valuable property, displacement and possible injury, not to mention the expense of repairs and clean ups. Here's how to keep you and yours safe this winter!

The ABCs

  • Place carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on every level on your home.
  • Replace batteries annually and check the expiration date. Smoke detectors, even the hardwired ones, expire after 10 years. They may still work but are less sensitive!
  • Never use appliances like ovens to heat your home.
  • Use fluid-fueled heaters, like kerosene heaters, outdoors only.

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Electric Heaters

  • Keep at least 3 feet of space between heaters and furniture, curtains, and anything that can burn.
  • Always keep a close eye on heaters and don't be tempted to use them when you sleep.
  • Do NOT use extension cords with any heating device.
  • Only buy UL approved space heaters that have safety features like automatic shutoff if tipping over occurs.
  • Check and see if an electric heater you own has been recalled.
  • Make sure cords are not frayed or cracked.
  • Don’t use the same circuit or outlet for an electric heater as another heater or other high-wattage electronics or appliances like TVs, computers, printers, lamps, and microwaves. (Did you know potpourri pots are high wattage?!)
  • Don’t run power cords under rugs or through high traffic areas.
  • Never put wet clothes or any fabric on or close to an electric heater to dry.
  • Unplug your heater when you leave home.

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Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

  • Have an annual inspection and cleaning to remove creosote build-up.
  • Do regular maintenance with regular use.
  • Use a dedicated screen to prevent sparks from flying out of your fireplace.
  • Ashes should be disposed of in a metal container, never paper or plastic.
  • Do not use substitute fuels or burning medium like newspaper or charcoal.
  • Accelerants like lighter fluid to start or fuel fires are real no-nos!
  • Always completely put out fires before you leave home.

It's not complicated! If all this extra heat is overly drying, read our article on what you can do to keep your home air quality healthy too. Then  your family will feel warm, cozy and safe & sound all winter long.