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CBS2 Gets Tips From Experts On How To Keep Your Home Heating Systems Safe

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Before you turn your heat on, there are steps you need to remember to take to make sure you do it safely.

It's especially important with people spending more time at home.

CBS2's Alice Gainer spoke to some experts on Thursday.

Heating is the second-leading cause of home fires in the U.S., according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Most home-heating fire deaths -- 81% -- involve space heaters.

"Malfunctioning space heaters or we leave them there too close to a blanket," FDNY Lt. Scott Duryea said.

READ MOREHome Heating Checklist: Getting Ready For Winter's Big Chill

At the FDNY Fire Zone learning center, Gainer got some safety tips, like never sleeping with a space heater on or leaving it unsupervised.

Also, fire officials say never use your oven for heat and make sure your boiler is clean and clear of clutter.

"Want to make sure that that vent is clear and the flue goes outside," Duryea said.

"I advise people to turn it on ahead of winter. This way, if there's some issues with the boiler, you can contact the plumber," said Selam Islami of Plumbing NYC.

READ MOREHome Heating Expert Offers Advice On How Homeowners Can Cut Into High Prices For Oil And Natural Gas This Winter

When it comes to the chimney, you need to check for blockages, especially if there's no cap.

"Birds can make a nest and blockage the chimney. Leaves can go inside. Animals can go inside," said Ardian Bejta, owner of Doctor Chimney.

In New Jersey, Doctor Chimney is dealing with more calls than ever before, now that many former city dwellers have snapped up homes in the suburbs these past two years.

"Now they move into the house, they have no idea how to use the chimney, some of them," Bejta said.

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On Thursday, the company was installing a stainless steel liner at one home.

"If there's any crack, your gonna have a carbon monoxide leak," Bejta said.

In addition to fire, that's the other major concern.

In New York City, the FDNY says you can call to have the department come install as many smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as you need.

Experts say if you need a professional to come to your home, don't wait.

"You don't want to too late to where you're stuck without heat and, you know, usually plumbers are backed up in wintertime," Islami said.

READ MOREThousands Of Smoke Detectors, Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms Recalled

Also, make sure you're getting regular inspections and cleanings of your heating equipment.

And if you rent, talk to your landlord about any concerns.

If an issue persists, call 311 in New York City, and if you're using a fireplace, the FDNY says to crack a window open because if the home is airtight the fire will use all the oxygen and that's where carbon monoxide comes from.

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