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Christmas Safety: An Electrical Safety Checklist

It’s that time of year again, when stockings are hung on the mantel and trees are decorated with twinkling lights. You line your roof with artificially made icicle lights, and the walkways are illuminated by fake candy canes that stand a foot and a half tall. Have you thought about all those lights and electrical cords that make your home this winter wonderland?

Did you know that Christmas tree fires are more fatal than a common house fire? These fires cause one fatality every 31 occurrences. This is higher than common house fires that result in one fatality per 144 occurrences. Electrical problems cause one in every three Christmas tree fires in the home.

Before Decorating: Inspect Decorations for Damage

Depending on your Christmas decoration preferences, most people put them up after Thanksgiving and put them away after New Year’s Day. Once the holiday season has passed, these decorations stay in storage until it is time to put them up again. Most of us prefer the cost-efficient method of putting up our saved decorations and adding new ones to the collection each year.

To make sure you create the safest possible Christmas for you and your family, you should take time before and after the holiday season to inspect your decorations. You should plan on replacing any broken or damaged light bulbs in your strands of lights. You can find replacement bulbs or upgrade to LED lights, which are a lot safer than older Christmas lights.

Look at all your cords – light strands, extension cords, etc. Furry critters and pests can find themselves in your storage unit, shed, or garage, and we all know they love to chew on cords. You may even have pets who have nibbled on your cords, and you didn’t notice. Exposed wires are a risk for fire.

Decorating Indoors for the Holidays

You like to admire your decorations from morning until night during the holidays. You want to curl up on the couch with a nice hot cup of cocoa and watch your favorite holiday film with the tree twinkling in the background. What can you do to ensure your indoor decorating is safe?

  1. Check the rating of your lights. Lights are rated for indoor or outdoor use. Make sure you look at your light’s packaging to determine what they are rated for. Use your indoor lights indoors and your outdoor lights outdoors. If they are rated for both, it won’t matter where you use them.
  2. Do not overload your electrical outlets. While it may be tempting to plug all of your decorations into one particular area, this can cause a fuse to blow. You should only plug in one high-wattage appliance into each outlet at a time.
  3. Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights as this can cause a blown fuse or even fire. Consider switching to LED versions of Christmas décor.
  4. Candles create serious risk and are often a key component to indoor Christmas decorations. Use battery-operated ones for the same effect. Always unplug decorations before bed or when you leave the house.
  5. Keep cords out of reach from children and pets. Even the cords of your Christmas lights can be dangerous. Make sure you are practicing electrical safety.

Decorating Outdoors

As easy as it is for fires to start indoors, it is just as easy for them to originate outdoors. You must practice electrical safety during the holiday season, no matter where your decorations are placed. How can you practice safety with your outdoor decorations?

  1. Ensure that your extension cords are rated for outdoor use. Indoor extension cords are not designed to handle the elements or the power from the sockets found outside.
  2. Don’t string an extension cord from the inside to the outside. This measure can be dangerous and should be avoided. Invest in extension cords for outside, or invest in a small generator for your Christmas decorations if you don’t have an external plug-in.
  3. Don’t daisy-chain your outlets. This is a fire-hazard.
  4. Use plastic light clips to hand the lights on the exterior of your home. Nails, staples, and screws are metal and do not mix well with electricity. Under certain circumstances, a spark could occur, and a fire may form.
  5. Ensure that all of your outdoor outlets are GFCI-rated. These types of outlets are designed to protect vulnerable outlets from shorting out. Need help inspecting your outlets? LiveWire Electrical can help!

How to Make Your Holiday Merry and Bright

It never hurts to have your home’s electrical system checked out, especially if you like to go all out with your Christmas decorations. Prevention is the best way to avoid ending up a Christmas fire statistic. You need an electrician who knows how to ensure safety at any Christmas party hop!

If you are unsure about your outdoor electricals, contact an electrician to inspect and install the right outlets (GFCI-rated) for your outdoor decorations. With a little help from a North Carolina electrician, you can expect to have a very Merry Christmas this holiday season. Contact us today!

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