As Christmas draws closer, most people are thinking of food, gifts and family and other joys associated with the holiday season. Most aren't thinking of the dangers the season brings.
From toxic ornaments to flammable trees to a driver who has had too much to drink after his office Christmas party, the holidays are a time of joy, but not a time to lose caution and common sense.
There are several reasons Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Roy Mason has to be concerned during the holidays and his concern translates into safety measures for all Moffat County residents.
Anytime a person buys a live Christmas tree and places it in their home, there is inherent danger, but never as much as this year. Drought and near-drought conditions have made Christmas trees dry, even before they are shipped to a sales lot. Early cutting has also contributed to the dryness of trees on lots.
"It's always a concern because people put up a tree and just forget about it," Mason said.
Christmas tree fires are most often caused by a defective string of light bulbs. Before wrapping them around a tree, Mason urges people to check light bulb strings to make sure all wiring is coated and all bulbs are attached securely and are in good condition.
He also said many fires are caused because too many lights are plugged into one outlet. The remedy, Mason said, is a circuit block a type of surge protector that shuts down if the voltage coming through is more than the socket can handle.
One way to avoid a fire that begins with the Christmas tree is to keep the tree as moist as possible. Officials tell people to get the tree home as quickly as possible, make a fresh cut at the base of the tree and get it into water fast. Adding sugar or syrup to the water helps the tree to absorb more water. Fire retardants for trees are available at local hardware stores, but this must be sprayed on a tree outside, before it is decorated.
Mason said people should consider where they set up their Christmas tree and make sure it is not to near a heating source which will cause it to dry out faster.
Christmas is truly a holiday for children, but it can be dangerous as well. According to Mason, children have been known to pull Christmas trees over on them or to chew on light cords or bulbs. Earlier this month, an ambulance was called to a home where a 4-year-old boy had bit into a Christmas ornament with an unknown liquid substance inside.
Toys can be just as dangerous. People are advised to buy toys appropriate for their child's age and abilities and provide supervision if necessary.
As the holidays approach, so does colder weather and with that the need for heat. Before lighting fireplaces that have been dormant, Mason advises people to inspect them on a regular basis.
"Inspection is the key," he said.
Since Craig is lacking a chimney sweep, Mason said people can buy brushes to clean chimneys themselves and said people should always place a screen in front of an open flame.
Mason's last tip, but not least important, is to not drink and drive. During an "Office Party Weekend" sting Friday and Saturday, 368 DUI arrests were made during a 33-hour enforcement period.