Family dinners, unwrapping gifts, decorating your home, and all of the other merriment that the holidays bring can also bring an increase in the likelihood of electrical accidents and home fires. Each year, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) launches a national safety awareness campaign to encourage safety during the season.
What can you do to help keep your family safe from electrical mishaps this holiday season?
- Before decorating, determine how many outlets are available for decorations. Note where they are located. Plan your displays (indoors and outdoors) to allow for spacing.
- Inspect any electrical decorations before using them to decorate. Specifically, double-check your lights for frayed wires or cracks and make sure there is a bulb in each light socket.
- When putting up lights outdoors, avoid power lines.
- Use electrical decorations that are approved by Underwriters Laboratories. “UL” will be clearly displayed on the label/box for the approved decorations.
- When hanging/displaying electrical decorations, do not hammer or tack nails into the electrical cords. Use safety clips where you can instead.
- Do not overload your outlets.
- Only use outdoor decorations outdoors and indoor decorations indoors. There’s a reason why they’re labeled and marketed in this way.
- Utilize heavy-duty extension cords and surge protectors where you can to help with any power strikes that may occur due to the weather.
- Don’t attempt to do electrical repairs on your own!
- Avoid placing too many strings of lights together. Best rule of thumb is no more than three strung together at any time.
- Consider purchasing LED lights which use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent light bulbs.
- Use a timer or turn off lights before going to bed, or if you will be away from your home for an extended period of time.
- Before going to bed for the night or leaving for any amount of time, do a quick walk-through of your house to spot any issues that may be occurring with your outlets and decorations.
- Indoor electrical decorations should not touch drapes, furniture, carpeting, or other flammable materials.
- Prevent tripping (and potentially unplugging / sparking) by placing cords and decorations in low-traffic areas.
- Avoid twisting, kinking, or crushing electrical cords for decorations.
- Specifically in houses with children or pets, be sure to use plastic endcaps in open outlets to prevent shocks and electrocutions.
- Periodically check on your lights and decorations throughout the season to ensure they continue to operate safely. If any wires fray or bulbs go out, replace them promptly.
- Don’t let children or pets chew on electrical cords.
- Holiday decorations aren’t made for year-round use. Be sure to take them down when the holidays are over. Store them properly to avoid the wires deteriorating before their normal time.
By taking the proper precautions both inside your home and outside your home, you can prevent electrical safety hazards and focus on your friends and family during the holidays.
Want to see more tips for a safe holiday? Check out this video from Electrical Safety Authority: