FDNY provides tips on how to keep your home safe from fires this winter

NEW YORK, New York (WABC) -- A recent series of fires in New York City during the coldest months of the year has FDNY officials warning residents to take safety precautions in and around your home.

The FDNY revealed an electrical issue was the cause for a five-alarm fire in Cypress Hill, Queens last Saturday. It is one of the four major causes of fires -- along with cooking, candles and smoking.

"Sometimes people are doing things just to stay warm," said Lt.Anthony Mancuso, with the FDNY's Fire Safety Education Unit.

Small heaters are being used, especially this time of year, as people raise the heat in bone-chilling temperatures.

"We say heat the room up, then shut them off and pull the plug," Mancuso said. "They are not supposed to be run for hours and hours. They should be on the floor. Should be plugged directly into an outlet, not into a power strip."

Remember to stay away from extension cords, too.

"The power strips or extension cords melt," he said.

When people lose power they frequently turn to stoves and ovens as a source of heat.

"You're burning a fossil fuel, and the stove isn't vented to the outside," Mancuso said. "So that's a big problem."

Also, making sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are properly working is lifesaving.

"If this battery type doesn't work anymore, you are supposed to go to a sealed alarm," he said.

They have a built-in battery that has a 10-year life, so make sure your children hear them and know the different warning sounds.

Mancuso said when the sounds go off, it is time to get out and call 911.

"Let us do a reading to see if you have a carbon monoxide issue," he said.

Candles pose another hazard, but now there are battery-powered flameless ones.

Fire officials said last year there were around 80 fatalities in fires -- all the more reason Mancuso stresses for families to make a plan in the event of a fire and, perhaps, save a life.

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