Unseasonably Cold Weather in the Forecast: Be Safe When Heating Your Home

Jan 02, 2014

With windy conditions and extremely cold temperatures in the forecast, Loudoun County public safety officials remind residents to take safety precautions when heating their homes. Malfunctioning heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires in January and February. Winter storms can also interrupt electrical service, causing people to turn to alternative heating sources, further increasing the risk of fire.  
By following these fire prevention measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of fire in your home and enjoy a safe winter season.  
•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. If you must use an extension cord, choose one that has a built in surge protector and that the cord is rated for the amps the appliance will require.  
• 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.  
This is also a good time to take a few minutes to make sure you have everything you need to be ready for wintry weather. 
• Get a kit. Imagine that you can’t leave your home for three days.  You need basic emergency supplies. 
• Make a plan. Everyone needs an emergency plan. It’s not hard to do. Find out how at www.loudoun.gov/readynova. 
• Stay informed. Sign up for alerts from the county including emergency information, news releases, traffic information, and more through Alert Loudoun at www.loudoun.gov/alert;  follow Loudoun County on Twitter at  www.loudoun.gov/twitter; and on Facebook at www.loudoun.gov/facebook.   
More information on winter preparedness is online at www.loudoun.gov/winter.