The holiday season is in full swing and Christmas is right around the corner! As you “deck the halls” and make other preparations, please pause to review our electrical safety tips and take care to avoid potential hazards.
Holiday Safety Tip #1: Inspect all electrical decorations for damage before use. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires and loose connections may cause a serious shock or can start a fire.
- Before decorating, determine how many outlets are available and where they are located. Plan your displays accordingly.
- Follow the manufacturer’s use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations.
- Match power needs (amperage) of electrical products with amperage rating of extension cords.
- When putting up outdoor decorations, exercise caution when decorating near power lines. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet from power lines.
Holiday Safety Tip #2: Do not overload electrical outlets.
- Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are a common cause of holiday fires.
- Avoid overloading outlets and only plug one high-wattage appliance into each outlet.
Holiday Safety Tip #3: Never connect more than three strings of incandescent lights. More than three strands may not only trip a circuit breaker but also can cause a fire.
- Consider purchasing LED lights which use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent lights.
- Make sure spotlights used to illuminate decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather and a safe distance from flammable items.
- Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.
- Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.
Holiday Safety Tip #4: Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations used for outdoor decorating are marked for outdoor use.
- Keep all extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.
- Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity.
- Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters. If circuits are not GFCI protected, portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold and require no special knowledge or equipment to install.
Holiday Safety Tip #5: Use battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles whenever possible. Almost half of home decoration fires are caused by traditional candles, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
- Avoid using traditional candles.
- Never leave an open flame unattended. Keep burning candles within sight.
- Place lighted candles away from combustible material such as other decorations and wrapping paper.
- Take care to place candle displays in locations where they cannot be knocked over.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other greenery
Holiday Safety Tip #6: Keep combustibles, including Christmas trees, at least three feet from heat sources.
- Test your smoke alarms monthly and make sure that your house is protected by an adequate number of working alarms.
- Smoke alarms should be located inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.
Holiday Safety Tip #7: Protect electrical cords from damage. To avoid shock or fire hazards, cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors or windows, placed under rugs, located near heat sources or attached by nails or staples.
- Do not place extension cords where they could cause a tripping hazard, like doorways.
- Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation.
- Keep halls, stairs and doorways properly illuminated and free of clutter and other objects that could hinder an escape during a fire emergency.
Holiday Safety Tip #8: Turn off, unplug and extinguish all decorations when going to sleep or leaving the house.
- Unattended candles are the cause of one in five home candle fires. Half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. (NFPA).
- Keep candles, matches and lighters out of reach of children in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children unsupervised where candles are lit.
- Cover any unused electrical outlets on extension cords with plastic caps to prevent children from encountering the live circuit.
- Place electrical cords out of the reach of small children.