Fire chiefs urge caution in winter
Tonganoxie Fire Chief Dave Bennett stressed that there is one must-have item this holiday season for all local residents.
And if you don't have one yet, he encourages you to purchase one and unwrap it early.
"Smoke detectors, smoke detectors, smoke detectors," Bennett said. "We still read stories about folks dying in fires that did not have working smoke detectors. And it's just replaceable, expect for a human life."
Bennett urges residents to make sure their detectors are working. If batteries need to be replaced, now's the time.
Two years ago, the fire department received a grant for 350 smoke detectors to distribute to the public. Bennett said the department is "basically out of them" now, but detectors can be purchased at several retail businesses.
Like Bennett, Fairmount Township Fire Chief Jeff Theno said area residents should be extremely cautious this time of year.
Theno urged residents with wood-burning fireplaces to keep the flue clean.
And, he said, people should not burn "green wood," or wood that's been cut recently. Instead, he said, seasoned wood is best because that allows the sap to dry out. The sap can lead to creosote, which can build up and eventually catch fire.
Theno said his department has responded to a few flue fires in recent weeks.
In addition to smoke detectors, Bennett said a carbon monoxide detector also is a good investment. He said they usually are available at hardware stores, and digital detectors work best.
If a detector indicates carbon monoxide is present in a home, Bennett said residents should leave immediately, but make sure no windows or doors are left open.
Bennett said carbon monoxide disperses quickly. If the gas can't escape through doors or windows, it's easier for firefighters to detect the source.
If anyone detects signs of a potential fire, whether it's smoke or a suspect odor, Bennett said they shouldn't hesitate to call the fire department.
"The biggest message I want to get out is if you think you're having a problem please call the fire department," Bennett said. "We do not charge when we come out for an emergency. A lot of people still think we charge. ... A lot of people are embarrassed when we come out. We don't want them to be embarrassed, we want to make sure they're safe. That's what we're here for."