How to safely heat your home during cold snap

As the forecast calls for more frigid nights ahead, many people aren't just reaching for that extra blanket, but that extra heat source to stay warm.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) —  As the forecast calls for more frigid nights ahead, many people aren’t just reaching for that extra blanket, but that extra heat source to stay warm.

“Winter is definitely when we see a large number and the reason why is as it gets colder, people find alternative ways to heat their house and a lot of times those ways can sometimes be dangerous,” explained Lt. Tony Barakat with the Chesapeake Fire Department.

So far this week, crews have battled a fire started by a failed attempt to light a candle in Norfolk, separate fires caused by a faulty chimney and hot fireplace ashes in Gloucester, a chimney fire in Suffolk, and another fire in Suffolk caused by an open oven.

Still, those are not the most common house fire causes firefighters see this time of the year.

“Space heaters seem to be what we run into a lot,” Lt. Barakat told 10 On Your Side.

A seemingly safe way to stay warm, when used improperly, can be very dangerous. Barakat says buy them new, make sure the packaging shows they’ve been tested by an approved company, and that they’ll shut off if tipped over, keep them a good distance away from any other household items.

And if you want to light a fire in your fireplace, Barakat says to make sure you have it inspected annually. both poisonous gas, and dangerous flames could take over in minutes.

“You could potentially have the smoke come into the house, or if there’s a crack in the flue of the actual chimney itself, that fire can make its way into the actual structure of your home and we see some fires occasionally start like that. Very challenging to put out from our perspective.”