SAFE & SOUND: Extra Heat in Your Virginia Home


Brrrrrrrrrrrr! Who's thankful for extra heat from fireplaces, wood stoves, and electric heaters? And fireplaces and woodstoves are positively essential if there’s a winter power outage! 

So it’s no coincidence that almost half of all home fires occur in December, January, and February. Stationary or portable space heaters pose a significant fire hazard and 86% of home heating fire deaths. 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 protect your home and keep your family safe this winter!


The Basics

  • 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.


Electric Heaters 

  • Keep at least 3 feet of space between heaters and furniture, 96f56744-heat_power_strip_1511986560500_4577302_ver1.0_640_360-1curtains, and anything that can burn.
  • Always keep a close eye on heaters and never use them when you sleep
  • Do NOT use extension cords or power strips with any heating device.
  • Buy UL approved space heaters that have safety features like automatic shut off 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, DVRs, laptops, printers, lamps, and microwaves. 
  • 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're not using it, especially when you go to bed or leave home.


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! And 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.