Summit County law enforcement, fire ready for holiday pitfalls
Ryan Summerlin November 21, 2012
With holiday visitors pouring into Summit County, local law enforcement and firefighters are ready to respond to the family feuds and kitchen mishaps that are unavoidable over Thanksgiving weekend.
Some local agencies will add extra patrols this weekend to help respond to an increased number of calls as the number of people in the county rises, while fire officials are prepared for minor burns and heating-device issues.
“Traditionally, it is a busier weekend,” Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue’s Steve Lipsher said. “It’s kind of the start of the ski season.”
The influx of visitors and second-home owners returning to the county and turning on fireplaces and heaters that haven’t been used in months tend to expose mechanical problems and blocked flues. Local firefighters are frequently responding to carbon monoxide calls or issues related to fireplace malfunctions over the Thanksgiving weekend.
In Silverthorne, authorities are prepared for a rise in domestic disputes this time of year.
“When the holidays roll around, it seems to be stressful on a lot of people,” Silverthorne police chief Mark Hanschmidt said. “Then you add the financial part of it with Christmas coming, and we start seeing some domestic-type situations, arguments and family disputes.”
For most local law-enforcement agencies, however, the weather can make the difference between a busy holiday and a quiet one. Hanschmidt said his department spends snowy holiday weekends responding to issues related to highway traffic.
This Thanksgiving weekend is expected to be mild and sunny, with high temperatures in the mid-30s. The only hint of snow in the forecast is a slight chance on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
State authorities are also gearing up for a busy holiday, as another DUI crackdown launches this weekend. The Thanksgiving “Heat Is On” enforcement sweep launched Tuesday at 6 p.m. and will continue through 3 a.m. Monday.
Last year, there were seven fatal crashes in Colorado over the Thanksgiving holiday, four of which involved alcohol.
“We are asking all Coloradans that are starting out this busy travel week for Thanksgiving to do the right thing by planning ahead for a sober ride home,” Colorado State Patrol chief Col. James Wolfinbarger stated in a recent joint release from CSP and the Colorado Department of Transportation. “Our troopers will be out in force to keep our roadways safe.”
Fire officials reminded the public to take safety precautions when taking on the tricky task of preparing turkeys as well.
“We have had some turkey action, if you will,” Red White and Blue Fire Protection District deputy chief Jay Nelson said. “Typically we see people putting their oven into clean cycle while the turkey’s in.”
But more serious fires can result from the oil used to deep fry turkeys, officials said, particularly if the frying is done in the garage due to colder weather. Oil spills can spark flames, which water will only intensify.
“We’d like to encourage people to be careful putting their turkey into the fryer,” Lipsher said. “You’re risking personal injury.”