As the calendar rolled around to December and as I walked around the mall watching people shopping and getting items for Christmas (I know such a natty word indeed) I was reminded about electrical safety not just at the office but at home!
While holiday decorating is all about adding fun, sparkle and warmth to a very special Season, it’s important to remember that many of our favorite decorations carry the risk of fire or electrical injury if not used carefully. Don’t let a preventable accident take the enjoyment out of your holidays – whether you’re excitedly preparing for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, take a few minutes to read our decorating safety tips.
Thing like checking lights, replaying old bulbs, inspecting cords and lines long before energizing them, plus thinking about not over loading circuits for the sake of glitter!
Always thing fire prevention and escape plans! Make sure you have working smoke alarms
With family and friends spending extra time at your home over the holidays, it’s a great time to check your smoke alarms. Replace smoke alarms if they are over 10 years old. Remember that you need working smoke alarms on every story of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Test your alarms to make sure they will alert you and your family if a fire occurs, giving you the precious seconds you need to safely escape.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year in the United States, hundreds of yuletide fires flare up from Christmas tree-related causes. Today’s Christmas tree lights come standard with safety fuses in the plugs to ensure overzealous decorators don’t overwhelm the electrical circuits in individual wall sockets. Use extension cords wisely
People often use extension cords for that extra set of lights or the dancing Santa in the corner. Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection. Make sure cords never go under rugs as this can cause damage to the cord and cause a fire.
To circumvent the safety precautions and up the ante, testers have dressed an extremely dry Christmas tree in 2,500 lights — five times as many as before — by using a number of extension cords and separate wall outlets. After just 40 minutes, the ambient temperature around the tree reached 225 degrees Fahrenheit. That sizzling heat would certainly get Santa sweating, but it wasn’t enough to ignite the tree.
Lights alone aren’t a fire hazard. However, holiday revelers should still avoid overloading extension cords and electrical sockets with tree light strands in case of a short circuit. If the resulting spark lands on a Christmas tree branch, the whole thing could quickly go up in flames.
Lights & Electrical
- Indoors or outside, always use CSA approved lights. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples, not nails or tacks, to hold strings in place. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- For added electric-shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.
- When shopping for lights, electric decorations and extension cords, purchase only the ones that are UL-listed
- If you’re planning to decorate outdoors, make sure that you use lights and decorations that are rated for outdoor use. Putting indoor-only products outside in the weather can result in electric shock and fire hazards.
- Whether they’re brand-new out of the box or seasoned veterans from holidays past, before you put them up, inspect all lights, electric decorations and extension cords for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs, and bulbs. If the damage can be repaired (i.e. broken bulbs replaced), do not use the item until the repair has been made. If cords and plugs are damaged, discard and replace the decoration.
- Always unplug lights before changing bulbs, replacing fuses, or making any other repairs.
- If you need to replace a bulb in a string of Christmas lights, make sure that the wattage rating of the replacement bulb you’re using matches that of the light strand. Using a bulb with too high a wattage can cause the light string to overheat, creating a fire risk.
- When hanging Christmas lights outdoors, reduce your risk of electric shock by passing up metal ladders in favor of ladders made of non-conductive materials like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.
- Only use lights and decorations in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.
- Before you begin decorating, verify how many strands of lights it is safe to connect end-to-end.
- Be careful not to overload extension cords. Before you start plugging in, find out the wattage rating of your extension cord, as well as the power requirements of any lights or decorations you’re planning to plug into it. A wattage rating is the amount of electricity that an extension cord is built to carry, and if the combined power requirements (or “pull”) of your lights and decorations exceed that rating, overheating and fire can occur.
- Every so often, check Christmas light wires to make sure that they’re not warm to the touch.
- Always turn off all Christmas lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.