As we move into the second half of November (WOW), we come rolling into the holiday season. In the last month and a half of the year, it’s all I can do not to feel the spirit.
In home décor, this is the time of flowers, ornaments, LIGHTS, and motorized holiday figurines, not to mention a general frenzy of indoor and outdoor decorations. You probably even have a light display in your neighborhood already.
And swept up though we can get into the holiday décor, it’s HUGELY important to remember that we have a responsibility to be careful, since many of our decorations carry the risk of fire or electrical injuries. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, holiday decorations cause approximately 860 home fires each year, while Christmas trees account for about 210 fires annually (NFPA).
The key to a safe AND fun holiday season is all about prevention. I’ve outlined some simple safety tips on all-things-decoration, electrical safety in relation to your pets or children, and some bonus tips…take a few minutes to read this week’s blog to avoid preventable accidents from merry to HAIRY!
Indoor and outdoor electrical safety tips
If you hang lights outdoors, electric shock and the risk of fire is more likely to occur with hanging cords. To reduce this danger, make absolutely sure that the cords are placed away from radiators, steam pipes, and windows, and that they are out of reach—especially for children and pets indoors.
Finally, when hanging the cords, we recommend using a ladder made of non-conductive materials like as plastic or wood (rather than metal).
Avoid overloading electrical outlets:
Overloaded electrical outlets and extension cords cause fires every day. To avoid the risk of overloading, before you plug anything in, make sure you know the power requirements of the lights or device (as well as the wattage rating of your extension cord). The power requirements should NEVER exceed the wattage rating. Additionally, you should plug only one high-wattage device into each outlet at a time.
Protect cords from damage:
Cords should never be placed under rugs or near heat sources, forced into small spaces, or pinched by furniture or other large items. Any of these can damage cords and lead to electric shock or fire.
Inspect electrical decorations for damage and check that they are certified:
Whether you’re going to use decorations from past seasons or purchase new ones, make sure you inspect them for any type of damage. Anything from a loose connection to a bare wire or damaged socket poses a serious risk for electric shock or fire. Just inspect everything before you use it!
For new decorations, make sure they have a certification label. According to the EFSI, any electrical decoration that does NOT bear a label from testing laboratories (like the Underwriters Laboratories [UL], Canadian Standards Association [CSA], or Intertek [ETL]) has not been tested for safety and could be hazardous.
Make sure your outdoor decorations are rated for outdoor use:
Exposing indoor-only products to weather conditions like winter rain and occasional freeze can result in electric shock and fire. A green holographic UL mark in the product’s package indicates that the product is safe only for indoor use, while a red mark indicates that the product is safe for both indoor and outdoor use.
Expert tip: Turn off and extinguish any decoration before going to sleep or leaving the house. According to NFPA, unattended candles are the cause of 20% of home candle fires.
Electrical and fire safety for children and pets
There is no doubt that children (and our four-legged fur babies) have the BEST time during the holidays! However, their curiosity—combined with all those new and shiny holiday distractions—can lead to injuries. Here’s our Signature list of 3 simple tips to ensure the safety of your children and pets from electrical and fire dangers.
- A child could easily become curious and want to play with decorations and cords. And a pet could want to chew cords or climb on decorations. Make sure that electrical decorations, lights, cords, or outlets are out of reach of both animals and children.
- A child should never be left alone with matches, candles, and electric lights. Similarly, your pet should never be left alone or unsupervised in a place with lit candles. Matches, lights, and candles should stay out of reach, and an adult should always be around children or pets if candles are lit and electric lights are on. Finally, battery-operated candles are a good alternative to candles.
- As we have mentioned previously in the article, make sure that electric outlets are not overloaded, cords are in great condition, and electrical decorations are certified and rated for the intended use. By ensuring these things, the chances of accidents for your children, pets, and even yourself are drastically decreased.
Bonus: Why a breaker trips during the holiday season, and how to avoid it…
An electrical circuit breaker is a device that controls and protects the electrical power system and devices of your home. There are two reasons for your breaker tripping: your breaker is old, or your circuit is overloaded. During the holiday season, circuit overload may occur due to excessive power consumption from holiday decorations (go figure). And although there’s actually very little chance you would overload your entire system with holiday lights, here’s how to avoid a circuit overload:
- Know your amp usage and avoid loading any circuit over 80 percent. That means that a 20-amp circuit can safely handle 16 amps. You can find the amperage rating of your lights in their packaging.
- Use LED Christmas lights.
- Use multiple outdoor circuits.
- Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
The holiday season is all about having fun and relaxing, enjoying the last weeks of the year! Follow these Signature tips to avoid preventable accidents from spoiling one of the best times of the year!!