Lynchburg, VA - Firefighters in central Virginia are asking everyone to go through your home and fireproof it.
December is the start of "house fire" season here in Virginia and they want to make sure you know how to avoid becoming a statistic.
Heating your home not only warms the air inside, but it can also dry out your house, making it more likely a spark could lead to a tragedy.
So first, firefighters suggest checking your outlets.
An overloaded one can be a serious fire hazard, especially in a warm and dry house, and specifically in older homes.
"The outlets and electrical components in those homes aren't suited for today's electronic equipment and so people have to plug in a lot of things to run the stereo and the Wii," said Greg Wormser Battalion Chief, Lynchburg Fire Department.
If you need to use an extension cord buy the appropriate size. Lowe's Electrical Pro Michael Coleman says, if you're using it to light anything more than a small lamp, a 16-gauge wire simply isn't enough.
"If you have a large load or a long length, they will heat up and can cause a fire. You want at least a 14 gauge and you could actually step up to a 12 gauge wire for something of that nature," said Coleman.
Still, according to firefighters the number one cause of winter house fires is the improper use or malfunction of heating devices.
"It may be a chimney that hasn't been cleaned properly, could be a wood stove or other alternative heat source that could be close to a sofa or laundry," said Wormser.
But the good news is the month of December hasn't been cold enough to keep the heat on full blast.
Wormer said, "House fires are definitely down this year for us in the city and we attribute that directly to the fact that it just hasn't been as cold and people aren't using their alternative heat sources, as much as they would normally use them."