It’s the holiday season again – that special time of year when you brighten your home with colorful and twinkling lights. Holiday lights are beautiful, but they can run up your electric bill and also pose hazards if not handled properly.
Although decorating with electrical lighting helps you create a cheerful atmosphere, it also brings an increased risk of accidental fire. Decorative holiday lights start an average of 170 home structure fires each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause approximately 7 deaths, 17 injuries and $7.9 million in property damage annually. Here are some important safety tips to help you avoid electrical fires, overloaded circuits and other holiday fire hazards both outside and inside your home.
Holiday Decoration Safety Tips
- Use only lights tested and rated by Underwriters Laboratories (look for the UL label).
- Save energy by using LED lights rather than incandescent lights. LED lights use less energy, exert less heat and more light, and help lower your electricity bill.
- Once you make the switch to LED lights, don’t mix your LEDs with your old string of lights. Your LEDs will have a longer life, and you’ll avoid potential safety risks, keeping you and your family safe during the holidays.
- Before using lights outdoors, check the label to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- Check each set of lights, new and old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard any damaged sets and always replaced burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
- Be careful when hanging lights. Use insulated holders instead of tacks, stapes or nails.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or run strings of lights through hooks (available at your local hardware store).
- Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged 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.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
- Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping, but do not run cords under rugs.
- When decorating the outside of your home, stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes.
- Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire. Timers are a great way to ensure that the lights get turned off each evening.
- Be sure to take your lights down after the holidays. These lights are meant for temporary use only.
- 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. To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it!
From Kiss Electric and their families
To learn more about Kiss Electric, visit their website