HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — As temperatures drop across the commonwealth, residents are starting to turn up the heat in their homes. Experts are issuing warnings for people to do so responsibly.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the Henrico County Division of Fire responded to several calls of homeowners smelling burning from heating systems being turned on for the first time since last winter.

Henrico Fire Battalion Chief Doug Reynolds told 8News the following tips for residents looking to start up their heating systems:

  • Residents with furnaces should get them checked and swap out filters before starting
  • Those with electric space heaters or kerosene heaters should remember to keep them three feet away from anything that could potentially catch fire
  • People with fireplaces should have them inspected by a chimney sweep, open the damper and make sure to use good seasoned wood
  • Everyone should avoid putting heaters in hallways or by doors because they could block an exit in the event of a fire

“Please make sure not to use an extension cord with an electric space heater, they overheat those,” Reynolds said. “I like to call them cheaper cords, and they will melt those in a minute, and you just have to be careful, and they’re always recommending you plug them directly into the wall.”

During Fiscal Year 2022-23, firefighters in the county responded to 768 fires — in which there were 30 civilian injuries and four deaths.

Broader Henrico fire statistics from Fiscal Year 2022-23. (Courtesy of Henrico County Division of Fire)

Reynolds also said all residents should make sure they have a working smoke detector. Those without can contact their local fire department which will provide one and install it for free.