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Henrico fire offers tips on how to safely heat your home this winter

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 11:47 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 6, 2021 at 10:31 AM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - With temperatures dropping and winter not far away, many of us are turning on our heat for the first time in months. However, if you’re not careful, you can easily spark a fire.

Henrico Fire Battalion Chief Doug Reynolds says departments across the greater Richmond area have been busier than ever.

“In the RVA area this year we’ve had a busy fire season,” Reynolds said. “This is certainly a big time of the year and as it gets colder we will start to see more home fires due to heating problems.”

Reynolds says the safest way to heat your home is with a furnace but understands that households will often turn to alternative means of heating their homes which could prove dangerous if used improperly.

“When you stray away from that and go to kerosene heaters, space heaters, things like that’s when we tend to see people run into problems.”

Reynolds adds it doesn’t take much for kerosene heaters, electric heaters, and oil heaters to reach hundreds of degrees in a short period of time. He says all space heaters should be kept at least three feet away from each other and anything flammable.

“It’s dangerous in two ways: If you got young children in your house these things have burn injury potential,” Reynolds said. “Otherwise, for a house fire you need to give them plenty of room, we’re talking at least 36 inches of clearance.”

With kerosene heaters in particular Reynolds says sou should always wait until the unit cools down before refilling it and it should always be refilled outside to keep fumes from accumulating inside your home. He says homeowners should also remember to store kerosene in blue containers and not red containers which typically hold gas.

Reynolds says these units draw so much power they can actually melt extension cords. He says the best practice is to always plug space heater units directly into the wall to keep cords from overheating.

“When it comes to fire safety the first thing that you have to have, you have to have a working smoke detector at your house and if you’re going to be using your furnace or a kerosene heater, or your fireplace do you need to invest in the carbon monoxide detector,” Reynolds said.

With daylight savings time this weekend, Reynolds says now is a great time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms while you are rolling your clocks back. If you need assistance with your smoke alarms you can always reach out to your local fire department.

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