Is your home at risk of a house fire?

Is your home at risk of a house fire?

There are hundreds of fire-related losses each year in Virginia. These involve chimney fires, cooking fires, alternative heat sources, smoking and electrical devices.

The start of the winter heating season is an ideal time to assess potential fire risks in your own home.

Living room

  • Electrical outlets are not overloaded.
  • Extension cords are in good working order and are not used as permanent wiring.
  • Fireplaces are fitted with screens or glass coverings.
  • Chimneys are cleaned and inspected annually.
  • A metal container with a tight-fitting lid is available for removing fireplace ashes from the house.
  • Candles have not been placed near combustible materials.
  • Smokers in the home use large, deep ashtrays and have a lidded metal container into which ashtrays can be emptied.


  • Appliance cords are out of small children’s reach.
  • Outlets are not overloaded.
  • A fire extinguisher is accessible at an exit, and family members know how to use it.
  • Food is not left cooking unattended on the stove (Unattended cooking is the No. 1 cause of house fires).
  • The stovetop is clean of grease and oil and other combustibles.

Bedrooms and bathrooms

  • Electrical outlets and power strips are not overloaded.
  • Extension cords are not being used as permanent wiring.
    Matches, lighters and cleaning products are stored out of children’s reach.
  • Candles are not placed near combustibles.
  • Each bedroom is equipped with a working flashlight.
  • All smoke detectors work and are checked annually.
  • Windows can be opened easily from the inside; all family members know how to get out of each room, and the family has an agreed-upon meeting place in the event of a fire.
  • Electric heaters are inspected yearly, kept away from combustible items and not used with extension cords or power strips.

Storage and work areas

  • The water heater is set at 120 degrees or lower.
  • The furnace or heating unit is inspected and cleaned annually.
  • The electrical panel box is not overloaded, and its cover is closed.
  • The dryer lint trap is cleaned after each use, and the area behind the dryer is cleaned at least twice a year.
  • Cleaning agents are stored in their original containers and out of children’s reach.

Garage or shed

  • Rags that have paint, varnish and polish on them are kept in covered metal cans.
  • Gasoline and kerosene are stored in approved and labeled safety cans.
  • The lawn mower is started and refueled outside and allowed to cool down before being brought back inside. The mower deck and engine are cleaned after each use.
  • A fire extinguisher is stored near an exit, and family members know how to use it.
  • Portable heaters are in well-ventilated areas.
  • Wood-burning stoves are inspected annually, and the areas around them are free of combustibles.


  • Your address is posted on the front of your house and visible from the street.
  • Weeds and brush are cleared at least 10 feet from the home.
  • Gas or charcoal grills are used away from the house and combustible materials.
  • Smoking materials are discarded in non-combustible containers, not in mulch or plastic.

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