May your days be merry, bright and safe

Scented candles and strings upon strings of twinkly lights are just two highlights of the holiday season. They can also be responsible for ending festivities in a hurry.

Local first responders are quick to remind folks not to neglect safety in the holiday hustle. Whether you’re adding warmth with space heaters or giving in to the urge to fill every corner with illuminated snowmen, Ellis Thompson-Ellis, community outreach specialist with the Grand Junction Fire Department, urges revelers to go through a checklist of safety measures this winter.

Clear the air

Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and work properly. (She suggested batteries be changed twice a year, when daylight saving time begins and ends.)

A symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning is drowsiness, which may not be alarming for older adults.

“The ability for those symptoms to mask themselves is scary, and the ability to get out of the house quickly is another concern,” Thompson-Ellis said.

Stay fire free

Once detectors work, she encouraged people to clean chimneys and dryer vents, common causes of home fires. Dryers can get extremely hot, and lint makes great kindling, Thompson-Ellis said.

Other common fire starters include space heaters, candles and overloaded electrical outlets. Turn off space heaters and blow out candles every time you leave the house. If that’s difficult to remember, she advised placing your car or house keys next to one.

When it comes to electrical outlets, the rule is that anything with a three-prong plug needs to go into the wall.

“If it has three prongs, it uses a lot of electricity and needs to be properly secured in a grounded outlet,” Thompson-Ellis said. “Most extension cords are not properly grounded.”

Anything flammable should be kept at least three feet away from fireplaces, heaters, candles, etc. She suggested people use decorations that are sold with a red “UL Listed” logo on the packaging.

When seniors call 911 during the holiday season, Thompson-Ellis said it’s usually because of a fall. Remove common tripping hazards this time of year by running extension cords against baseboards or securing them to the floor with visible tape.

If you have a real Christmas tree, water it every day—they dry deceptively fast.

Ensure the outside of your home is safe by doing a street check where a fire truck would need to park.

“Make sure we can see the house number because if we have an emergency we want to find you,” Thompson-Ellis said.

After the holidays

Discard real Christmas trees safely after the holiday season ends. Take trees and wreaths to the composting facility at 3071 U.S. Highway 50 in Grand Junction or Horse Country Arena, 201 Kellogg St. in Delta. There is no charge to compost a tree, but be sure to remove all wires, ornaments and lights. The Grand Junction facility is open from 8 a.m.-4:15 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The Delta facility is open from dawn to dusk through the end of January. You are responsible for removing trees and wreaths from your vehicle.

The City of Montrose offers those who pay city utilities a free curbside pickup service of real trees and wreaths. Again, remove all lights, ornaments and wire.

People can call 240-1480 to be put on a list, but garbage collectors will also notify the city when there’s a pickup.

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