Heating Your Home Safely

The Loudoun County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management reminds everyone to be safe when heating your home in the winter. Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February. Winter storms can also interrupt electrical service, causing people to turn to alternative heating sources, further increasing the risk of fire.

The National Fire Protection Associations latest data shows that in one year, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 57,100 U.S. home structure fires, resulting in 490 civilian deaths, 1,540 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in property damage. By following these fire prevention measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of fire in your home and enjoy a safe winter season.

Fireplaces, Furnaces & Portable Heaters

  • Keep children and combustibles at least three feet away from all heating equipment, stoves and fireplaces.
  • If you use an electric heater do not overload the circuit. Choose an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance electrical cord.
  • Always remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • Before going to sleep, ensure the fire in your fireplace is completely extinguished. Never close the fireplace damper if hot ashes remain in the fireplace. The fire may reheat and force toxic carbon monoxide into your house.
  • Always let ashes cool before putting them in a closed metal container. Keep the container outside, a safe distance away from your home.
  • If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. Never break a synthetic log apart or use more than one log at a time.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • If you do not have one already, install a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, invisible gas, which is produced by gas fireplaces, furnaces and stoves, barbecues, vehicles, propane appliances and any other device that produces a flame.

The Loudoun County Fire Marshal's Office reminds all residents to ensure your smoke alarms are correctly installed and functioning properly. To schedule a visit for a free home safety inspection to include free smoke alarms installation or to obtain information regarding our "Put A Finger On It!" free smoke alarm program, visit the Smoke Alarms page or call 703-737-8093.

More winter safety tips can be found on the Winter Weather Information page.