Many Americans are already unpacking Christmas decorations, before Thanksgiving has even started! Elaborate Christmas lights are as big a part of the Christmas experience as the endless reruns of Christmas classics and Santa Claus. However, many people use lights recklessly, and it can result in house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 150 fires were caused by holiday lights each year during 2007 through 2011. To avoid losing your home, here are safety tips you can follow for Christmas lights this holiday season.
1. Beware of dry Christmas trees.
During the same span of years mentioned above (2007-2011), an average of 230 house fires were ignited due to Christmas trees. Dry trees are a fire hazard, especially when positioned near a heat source such as a candle. In addition to heat and fire, electrical failure or malfunction of lighting can cause a tree to catch fire. To prevent this, water your tree regularly and keep away from heat. A dry tree will burn faster than a moist one.
2. Use cords properly.
Electrical shock or fire is possible when cords are not used properly. Avoid pinching cords between doors or furniture, shoving them into tight spaces, or hanging them with nails or tacks. Use electrical tape instead.
3. Check that your lights pass the test and use them accordingly.
The Underwriters Laboratories, an independent testing company, marks lights that are safe for use with a holographic UL label. Labels in red mean the lights are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Green means the lights should be used inside only
4. Use the right outlet and don’t overload it.
Holiday lights should be connected to a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet that can shut down power if the circuit is overloaded. If you do not have an outlet like this, your electrician can install one. Plus, at any time, there should never be more than one high-wattage appliance connected to the outlet.
5. Properly shut down lights at night.
About half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7 a.m.. Before you and your family go to sleep each night, shut off and unplug all Christmas lights and displays. Blow out any candles that may be burning as well. While it may seem inviting to leave your lights burning all night, we’re confident Santa can find you in the dark. Plus, you will be doing a great service to the lives of you and your loved ones.
As you begin decorating for the upcoming holiday season, be sure to follow these holiday lights safety tips to keep your home secure from fire or electrical damage.