Metro-East News

Careful with turkey fryer, water your tree, local firefighters say

Metro-east firefighters want you to stay safe this holiday season — that means watering your real Christmas tree, and checking up on your smoke detectors.

Some area fire departments, such as Washington Park and Fairview Caseyville Township, have shared a video by the National Fire Protection Association that has been recirculating on social media again since it was posted last year. The video shows that a dry tree can burn up and destroy a living room in a matter of seconds. It’s been viewed more than 233,000 times on YouTube.

The Northwest St. Clair County Fire Protection District shared several fire-prevention tips in a news release this week. Northwest Fire Chief Chester Borkowski Jr. said residents should ensure they have multiple working smoke alarms in their home and should replace smoke alarms older than 10 years as well as smoke alarm batteries.

The fire chief offered other ways to prevent a deadly fire:

▪  Keep candles away from tablecloths, curtains and other combustible items.

▪  Remove a small section of your Christmas tree stump and allow the tree some fresh water to keep it from drying out, Borkowski suggested. To ensure that the tree is getting enough water, bend a pine needle near the top of the tree. If it breaks, your tree probably needs more water.

▪  Light your tree responsibly. Borkowski said it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as to how many light strands can be connected and placed on a tree — whether it’s freshly cut, artificial or outdoors.

▪  Have a fire escape plan and practice it. Include emergency phone numbers in that posted plan.

▪  Never use turkey fryers inside a residence or garage, Borkowski said. These fryers should be used outside at a safe distance. Never fry a turkey that is not fully thawed. Also, he said, don’t leave home with the oven on.

The Belleville Fire Department also offered similar advice this week through a Facebook video on how to stay safe during the winter holidays. The three-minute video features Belleville Battalion Chief Randy Schield.