By Jennifer McLogan

OLD BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Electric space heaters, the type that malfunctioned in the Bronx, can be extremely dangerous when not operating carefully, and fire marshals across the region are preaching safety.

Prayers are pouring in as leaders urge residents everywhere to learn from the Bronx tragedy.

READ MORE: New Yorkers Brave Some Of The Coldest Temperatures In Years; Tips To Stay Safe

“I’d ask right now that we have a moment of silence to say our prayers for those who passed in the Bronx fire,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.

At Nassau’s Fire Academy on Wednesday, officials shared important measures for the safe use of space heaters wherever you live.

“Do not use these when they’re not attended, when you fall asleep. You don’t want to plug it into an extension cord or power strip … that is at least three to five feet away from anything that would burn,” Nassau County Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said.

The chief fire marshal demonstrated how things go quickly wrong.

“Clothing, bedding, sheets, anything like that that comes in contact with that space heater [can catch fire],” Uttaro said. “Mind you, we are less than a minute into this fire and you see it’s already starting to burn the couch, starting to make its way across the room onto the carpet.”

Such accidents don’t happen only in large dwellings. Stoves, dryers, electrical outlets and space heaters malfunction and cause fires every day in residential houses.

READ MORE: Bronx High-Rise Fire: Some City Residents Say They Have No Choice But To Use Space Heaters On Brutally Cold Days

Since the mid-1970s multiple Long Islanders have died and dozens of others have been left injured or homeless in fires sparked by space heaters.

Shutting doors saves lives.

“Like shutting an oven, like shutting the toaster oven, you contain that fire, you contain that smoke,” Uttaro said.

Randi Marshall, a Newsday editorial writer and columnist, escaped exploding smoke and flames in her townhouse last week.

“We were having dinner and relaxing as a family and I smelled smoke, and then I saw smoke,” she said. “I screamed and we ran, grabbed the dog. I’m on the phone calling 911 as we were running out the door. That smoke made me think, in terms of the Bronx fire, that smoke fills you up so fast.”

“In an emergency, people are panicking. Having a plan to escape is important. Practicing that plan is even more important,” Uttaro said.

MORE NEWS: In Wake Of Deadly Bronx Blaze, FDNY Offers Safety Guidance To Residents Living In Fireproof And Non-Fireproof Buildings

December, January and February are peak months for space heater-related fires, injuries and deaths, according to the National Fire Prevention Agency.

Jennifer McLogan