Few traditions are as unique to the holidays as festooning our homes and yards with twinkling lights and festive decorations. While these displays add to the magic of the season, they also increase our risks for holiday fires and injuries. So follow these steps to make sure that your traditions result in a safe, bright, and happy time for your family.
Carefully inspect each electrical decoration and extension cord before use, and discard any damaged items. Cracked sockets, bare or frayed wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or fire. Avoid overloading outlets, which can overheat and cause a fire.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends never connecting more than three strands of incandescent lights together. Do not pinch cords in windows or doors, or under heavy furniture.
When decorating outside, make sure outdoor outlets are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Check that all items and extension cords are marked for outdoor use. And exercise extreme caution when decorating near overhead power lines. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder instead of metal. Keep yourself and all of your equipment at least 10 feet from power lines.
Take special care with Christmas trees. If purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. Heated rooms dry out live trees—even fresh ones—rapidly. Place the tree at least 3 feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces and space heaters. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water. For artificial trees, look for the label “fire resistant.”
Decorate your tree, live or artificial, with non-combustible or flame-resistant materials. Never use burning candles on or near your tree.
Whether your house is the most festive on the block or you prefer a more low-key style, make safety an important part of your holiday preparations.