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'Tis the Season to Decorate Safely

'Tis the Season to Decorate Safely

Tis the Season to Decorate Safely


ELECTRICAL SAFETY FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL
https://www.esfi.org

Very few things are as unique to the winter holiday season as the custom of decorating your home and yard. Findings from a 2013 Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) consumer survey indicate that more than 86 percent of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations. Almost two-thirds of respondents use electric lights in their indoor decorating scheme, while more than half use lighted decorations outside their homes. More than 60 percent of those who decorate their homes for the holiday utilize at least one extension cord.

While holiday lighting and electrical decorations do contribute to the splendor of the season, they can also significantly increase the risk of fires and electrical injuries if not used safely. Given these safety hazards, it is crucial that safety is a foremost concern.

Indoor lights and electrical decor

  • 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 incandescent lights.
  • Before decorating, determine how many outlets are available and where they are located. Plan your displays accordingly.
  • Match power needs (amperage) of electrical products with amperage rating of extension cords.
  • 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. 

Outdoors 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 the cord’s insulation.
  • 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 conduct electricity.
  • 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.
  • 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.

For more information about holiday electrical safety, including printable posters, articles and videos, visit the ESFI website at https://www.esfi.org.


  • 29 November 2019
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 601
  • Comments: 0
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