The upcoming holiday season is the busiest time of the year for many families. There are meals to plan, gifts to wrap, and a tree to decorate. In the excitement of the season don’t overlook safety. Holiday electrical issues can put a damper on celebrations.
Electrical Safety at Christmas Time
Many families love to decorate their homes with strings of lights, holiday stockings, candles, and festive ornaments. Test your smoke detectors and replace the batteries as your first precaution. Use the following safe practices to avoid electrical issues during the holidays.
Unplug When You’re Not at Home
You may be tempted to leave your holiday lights on for your neighbors to enjoy, but when you leave the house, turn them off. Unplug or power down indoor and outdoor lights. This will help prevent any electrical issues while you’re away.
Turn the lights off when you go to bed for the evening, too. You won’t be alert to electrical issues in the home while you’re sleeping.
Prevent Holiday Electrical Issues when Using Extension Cords
If you are using extension cords, keep the cords in an open, dry location. Check the cords to see if they are marked for interior or outdoor use. Prevent damage to cords and reduce electrical hazards by keeping them out of walkways, away from heat sources, and using them only when necessary.
Choose LED lights rather than traditional bulbs when possible because they use less electricity. Don’t use nails or tacks to attach cords to the walls or floors. Always inspect them for damage before use and don’t overload extension cords.
Indoor Lights vs. Outdoor Lights
When purchasing holiday lights, look for the UL (the Underwriters Laboratory) seal. If the tag is green or has the UL logo in green, these are indoor lights. A red tag means the lights are safe for outdoor use. Indoors lights are not designed for wet conditions and should not be used outside. Some types of outdoor lights generate too much heat to use inside.
Incorrect use of Christmas lights could lead to overloaded circuits or even a fire. When planning your holiday decorating, check the tags on your lights so you know where they can be safely used.
Don’t Damage Cords
Do not use nails or thumbtacks when hanging holiday lights. This may damage the wiring and cause a short. There are hooks available that are designed for hanging strands of lights or use insulated staples and be sure to staple over the cord, not through it.
Proper Storage of Decor Can Prevent Holiday Electrical Issues
At the end of the holiday season, take care to store your lights and other electric decorations so they are protected from moisture and pest damage until next year. Pack your decor in tightly sealed plastic containers for storage.
Signs of Electrical Issues During the Holidays
Careful use of holiday lights and proper use of extension cords helps keep you and your family safe during the Christmas season. If you notice any of the following signs of safety issues, unplug your lighting or appliance and troubleshoot to determine the problem.
- a smell of burning plastic
- frayed or damaged wires
- outlets that are hot to the touch
- smoke or sparks from an appliance or outlet
- circuit-breakers that repeatedly trip or blown fuses
- melted wire casings or plugs
Take care to prevent electrical issues and enjoy a healthy and safe home this holiday season.