As part of its annual holiday safety awareness effort, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is urging the public to Make Safety a Tradition by providing resources that promote electrical safety during the holiday season.
Results from a recent ESFI survey indicate that more than 86% of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, seasonal decorations are accompanied by many electrical hazards. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 210 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year, and nearly one-third of these fires are attributed to electrical failures or malfunctions. An additional 860 home structure fires per year are caused by holiday decorations excluding Christmas trees.
ESFI’s holiday resources include a practical infographic titled “In the Right Light: Decorate your Home Safely for the Holidays,” which provides tips on avoiding electrical hazards while decorating the home during the holiday season. Further, ESFI’s holiday-themed website, http://www.holidaysafety.org, provides a comprehensive library of additional infographics and resources to keep families safe during all facets of the holiday season.
“While holiday decorations contribute to the splendor of the season, they can also increase the risk of fires and electrical injuries if not used safely,” ESFI President Brett Brenner. “Taking simple precautions such as not overloading outlets and watering the Christmas tree daily could help minimize the risk of tragedy.”
Follow these basic safety guidelines to help prevent serious electrical and fire hazards as you decorate your home and yard this season:
- Avoid using candles when possible. Consider using battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.
- Water your Christmas tree daily.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire resistant.”
- Use only electrical decorations and lights that have been approved for safe use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
- Carefully inspect each electrical decoration before use. Cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.
- Follow the use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations, and always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.
- Keep young children away from holiday lights, electrical decorations, and extension cords to prevent electrical shock and burn injuries.
- Avoid plugging too many holiday lights and decorations into a single outlet. Overloaded outlets can overheat and cause a fire.
- Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation.
- Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together, and consider purchasing LED lights, which use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent lights.
- Make sure any electrical decorations used outdoors are marked for outdoor use.
- Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.
- Outdoor electrical lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- Use caution when decorating near power lines. Contact with a high-voltage line could lead to electrocution.
- Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
Visit ESFI’s holiday safety website, http://www.holidaysafety.org, for all of the tools you need to Make Safety a Tradition of the holiday season.