Beautiful, sparkling light displays, inflatable holiday decorations, and other temporary electrical installations are all a part of the decorations for the holiday season.
Without a doubt, we tax our electrical system to power all these displays. While we could save energy and avoid any mishaps by skipping the electrical decorations this year, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without a few twinkling lights to enjoy.
Luckily you can still enjoy the lights and other holiday decorations and stay safe by following these safety tips:
Give Electrical Decorations a “once over”
Before hanging lights on your Christmas tree or the house, examine these decorations for any damage. Look for any bare wires, loose connections and never plug into broken or damaged sockets. Any of these issues could possibly start a fire or give you a good shock!
Live or Artificial Tree Safety
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, avoidable electrical issues are the cause of one in three home Christmas tree fires. So whether you decide to use a live tree or an artificial tree to decorate and celebrate for the season, you should be aware of the potential hazards with both of these tree options.
- Live Tree: If you are using a live tree, find a fresh one. The tree should be green with needles that don’t fall or pull off easily from the branch. Before setting the tree up, cut the trunk at a 45 degree angle and stick it in a tree stand with water to keep it fresh (and regularly check that it has water in the base). A tree that dries out due to lack of water is more likely to catch fire.
- Artificial tree: When using an artificial tree, make sure that it is labeled as fire retardant. Artificial trees that are fire retardant aren’t free from catching on fire, but they do resist burning at a fast rate and can be put out rather quickly if it should happen.
Are Your Outdoor Lights…Outdoors?
If you are one of the millions-plus people that enjoy hanging lights on the outside of your house or in the trees, be sure to only use lights that are designed for outdoors. Lights specified for the outdoors are made to handle the snow, rain and other winter weather. Where lights meant for indoor use are not and may cause an electrical hazard if damaged by inclement weather.
Loose connections and Electrical Circuits on Overload
Poor support for outlets and switches not only look bad, but also can be potentially dangerous!! So be careful when plugging in lights and other electrical holiday decorations.
According to Central’s Master Electrician, Joel Zinne, “Most fires that start this time of year are caused by loose connections. “Loose” as when a cord wants to fall out of an outlet. These loose wires can arc and overheat, creating a potential fire hazard.”
Another electrical mishap to look out for is electrical outlets that are overloaded. For your own safety it is important to allocate your strand of lights among several extension cords. Extension cords include an amp rating that is not safe to exceed. If the combined amps of your lights strung together is higher than your cord can handle, you take the chance of the cord overheating and creating a fire hazard. Rule of thumb: no more than three strands of lights should be strung together.
Leaving the Lights On
With all the holiday activity that goes on at this time of year, it’s easy to forget to turn the lights on or off. Never leave the Christmas lights on when you are in bed sleeping or when you are not home. Leaving them on can become a safety issue and will increase your electric bill. Consider getting a Christmas light timer to make this task a little easier.
Another Option for Lights
You may want to switch your lighting over to LED Christmas lights. They are safer, don’t get hot to touch and don’t burn out like other bulbs. Also, According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they use up to 75% less energy, and last 25 times as long!
Don’t Leave a Boiling Pot
Always stay in the kitchen when cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Association (http://www.nfpa.org/), The leading cause of home cooking fires start due to unattended cooking equipment. Once your holiday meal is ready to eat and enjoy, check that your oven and all the burners of your stove are turned to the off position and unplug any other kitchen appliances no longer in use before leaving the kitchen area.
Christmas is a time meant for family and friends, joy, laughter and the Spirit of Christmas. Taking the time to follow these tips will help ensure that your holiday is safe for you and your loved ones.
Whether you are in Kalispell, Whitefish, Bigfork, Columbia Falls or anywhere else in the Flathead Valley. . .As always, your Safety and Comfort is our Central concern. Call 406-756-6656 for all your heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical and drain cleaning needs.
From all of us here at Central, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!!