Don't become a fire victim this winter -- that's the message from area firefighters.
This is the time of year when the potential for a house fire is greatest.
An increasing number of people are turning to alternative heating sources in an effort to save money.
So, what are some of the leading causes of house fires in the winter?
Let's start in the kitchen.
"A lot of people might lose their heat and decide to use the stove or oven to heat their home -- that's not a good idea. It is not designed for home heating," said Colonial Heights Deputy Fire Marshal, Joe Boisseau.
Now, to the living room.
"If you use a wood stove or fireplace make sure you have a screen in place whenever you're burning. So if a log falls -- it doesn't fall out of the fireplace," he added.
Also, make sure you clean your chimney yearly.
A wood burning fireplace should be professionally cleaned every other year.
Another leading cause of house fires, especially this time of year, is caused by placing a space or portable heater too close to curtains, clothing or other combustibles.
Keep objects at least 3 feet away from space heaters.
Deputy Boisseau turns his attention to extension cords.
"These cords are not designed to handle the load that space heaters have -- they'll short out and cause a fire, he said.
And then there are candles.
"Candles are not a good source of light or heat. You've got to make sure when you're using candles to stay in the room -- never leave a candle unattended," said Boisseau.
It's this time of year, during the months of December, January and February, that the potential for a house fire is greatest, nationwide.
"Ultimately what we're trying to do is prevent a fire from occurring and lives from being in jeopardy and make sure everybody has a safe winter and make it into the summer months," said Boisseau.
And of course everyone is encouraged to have a working smoke detector inside of their home, year round.