ROANOKE CO., Va. -

With temperatures getting colder and winter just around the corner, keeping yourself warm means fire risks go up.

At this point fire officials have a good handle on what causes fires as people begin to heat their homes.

Their main issue is getting the word out.

"This time of year we get a lot of calls, 'I think there's a fire in my house, I think I smell smoke' because they're firing up their heaters for the first time," says Tiffany Bradbury with the Roanoke Fire Department.

The first big tip: keep it clear; especially around things that produce heat; like space heaters, wood burning stoves and furnaces.

"You want to keep things clear from it, make sure it's in good, working order. That'll probably also help you with some of your heating and cooling costs to make sure it's working as efficiently as possible," Bradbury said.

As for those space heaters, don't plug them into power strips and leave them in the corner of the room.

"Never leave them on when you leave the house, or when you're sleeping. Definitely never want to pull them up close to the bed," Bradbury said. She advocates adding more layers instead of leaving a space heater on.

Sounds simple, but if you have a wood burning fireplace, only put dry wood in it; nothing else, and make sure the chimney is clear.

Also, when you get rid of those ashes, make sure they're cool and in a heavy duty metal bucket before you dump them.

The main reason why is if you dump hot ashes on these dried leaves this time of year, a fire can spread very quickly.

Also make sure all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.

Fire safety experts say it's always a good idea to change the batteries in your smoke detectors whenever you change your clocks. Daylight saving time ends in less than two weeks.

Long story short, be careful and be aware. If it can happen to anyone, it can happen to you:

"Fire doesn't discriminate, it doesn't care what age you are, how much money you make, if you're a man or a woman, if you leave yourself open to a fire problem, it could start," said Bradbury.

Bradbury says fires this time of year are most commonly caused by keeping things too close to heat sources.

She says a good rule of thumb is to keep three feet between any furniture and anything that can get hot.