COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Authorities are reporting 17 people, including eight children, were killed in a New York City apartment fire Sunday, with investigators saying the fire was started by a malfunctioning space heater and called the fire in the Bronx a “total tragedy.”

Columbus Division of Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin shared several safety tips for those who use space heaters in their homes.

According to Martin, the first thing to do is check to make sure the chord is in good working order, and there there is no exposed copper, and the insulation is not deteriorating. He also explained space heaters should be placed on the floor, rather than on an elevated surface or furniture.

“Make sure that there’s a three-foot radius in all directions away from anything flammable like bedding, clothing, draperies, or anything like that, and dried plants,” Martin said.

The battalion chief said space heaters should not be used where children or pets can knock them over or bump into them, and they should not be left unattended when in use.

“You just don’t know what’s going on when you’re not around and that would go for running a clothes dryer, a fireplace, candles,” Martin said. “Make sure all that stuff is extinguished or turned off when you’re not there so that, you know, nothing bad is going to happen when you’re gone.”

Martin advises the public to use space heaters that shut off when they fall on their side. He also said space heaters should be directly plugged into a wall outlet, and no items should be placed on their chords.

To request a free smoke alarm, Columbus residents can call (614) 724-0935. Those living outside the city can call 1-844-207-4509.