Before you deck the halls this holiday, be sure to follow these safety tips from Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), a non-profit dedicated to promoting knowledge of safe electrical practices.
According to the ESFI, 30 percent of home fires and 38 percent of home fire deaths occur between December and February, resulting in about 20 deaths, 40 injuries and more than $20 million dollars in property damage every year. Furthermore, hundreds of children are taken to emergency rooms every holiday season for injuries caused by unsafe or improperly used extension cords.
• Always purchase electrical decorations and lights from reputable retailers. • Use lights approved for safe use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. • Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together. • Consider purchasing LED lights, which use less energy and run cooler than traditional • Before decorating, determine how many outlets are available and where they are • located. Plan your displays accordingly. • Carefully inspect each electrical decoration. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or • bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire. • Follow the manufacturer’s use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations. • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. • They can overheat and cause a fire. • Make sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows, or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord’s insulation. • Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation. • Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses. • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep. Outdoor Decorations • Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations used for outdoor decorating are marked for outdoor use. • Match power needs (amperage) of electrical products with amperage rating of extension cords. • Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). 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. • Inspect all lights, decorations, and extension cords for damage before using. • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, the house, or other firm supports to protect them from wind damage, but take care not to attach the lights in a way that could damage • Keep all extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water. • Make sure spotlights used to illuminate decorations are well-ventilated, protected from • weather, and a safe distance from flammable items. • Inspect ladders for loose or missing screws, hinges, bolts, and nuts before using. • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders • Use the right ladder height, ensuring ladders extend at least three feet past the edge of the roof. • Exercise caution when decorating near power lines. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet from power lines.