Guide to heating your home safely this winter

NORFOLK, Va. - With colder weather approaching, it's important that you're heating your home safely.

That means you'll want to make sure your smoke alarms are working properly, double check your heating systems and be cautious of space heaters.

According to the American Red Cross, heating a home is one of the leading causes of home fires.

They add that almost half of the families in the United States use things like space heaters, fireplaces, or coal or wood stoves to stay warm. While they can be crucial for survival during the winter months, they can also be dangerous if they are not used properly.

Across Hampton Roads, fire officials said they saw an increase in the number of calls they responded to. Some were even fatal.

Related: Cooler temperatures lead to more natural gas leaks 

Fire Chief Harry Worley recalled two instances where people died and he said they were directly related to heating sources not being used properly. He told News 3's Erin Miller that one was caused by a space heater and the other one involved unattended cooking.

Worley also emphasizes how important it is to have a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. In many instances he said they have saved lives.

Here are a few tips offered by the Red Cross to keep you safe this winter:

  1. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

  2. Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.

  3. Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.

  4. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.