Top 20 Safety Tips for Holiday Decorating

Safety Tips For Holiday DecoratingThe holidays are filled with colorful lights, twinkling trees and even blow-up yard decorations. Almost all of these winter wonders require electricity. According to the ESFI (Electrical Safety Foundation International) 25% of holiday fires are caused by decorations. That’s about 860 home fires. Don’t let your home be one of them. The good folks at Herrmann Services want to make sure your season stays merry, not scary, so we’ve made a list and we’d like you to check it twice. Follow these easy safety tips to keep your home and loved ones safe.

Hanging Decorations and Strands of Lights

We know the holidays are a busy time and you may be tempted to cut corners when it comes to decorating your home, but don’t. Follow these rules and be safe:

  • Inspect Electrical Decorations for Damage
    Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections can cause a serious shock or start a fire.
  • Never Connect More Than Three Strands of Incandescent Lights
    More than three strands may not only blow a fuse, but can also cause a fire.

TIP: You may want to update your lights to LEDs. They produce considerably less heat and use less electricity too.

  • Watch Bulb Placement
    Make sure bulbs don’t touch supply cords, wires, cloth, paper, or any material that’s not part of the light string.
  • Use the Proper Clips for Hanging Decorations
    Staples and nails can damage electrical cords and cause shorts.
  • Look for Certification Labels
    Decorations not bearing a label from an independent testing laboratory have not been tested for safety and could be hazardous. Look for Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL).
  • Check for Indoor/Outdoor Rating
    If using outside, make sure the extension cord is labeled for outdoor use.
  • Watch for Overhead Power Lines Outdoors
    If you are using a ladder to put up decorations, or when you’re hanging lights or decorations on trees outside, power lines can be lethal. Know where they are before you start.
  • Turn Off or Unplug Decorations When Going to Bed or Leaving
    According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11pm and 7am.

Outlet Safety

We know it can be difficult, but try not to plug too many holiday decorations into your outlets. Also, make sure your outlets are GFCI in the kitchen, bathrooms, and outside.  

  • Inspect Outlets before Using
    If the outlet shows any signs of damage, such as black lines where the plug enters or sparks when you plug something in, don’t use that outlet and have a professional electrician inspect it.
  • Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
    Avoid plugging too many lights and decorations into an outlet. Overloaded circuits can overheat and start a fire. Read the package instructions, and never exceed the recommended wattage. Circuits that frequently trip can indicate too many items are connected to the circuit.
  • Use Battery-Operated Candles
    Candles start almost half of home decoration fires according to the NFPA. Battery operated candles have no wires to be plugged in or hazardous open flames.
  • Use GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Outlets Outdoors
    GFCI outlets are designed to cut off electricity when it senses an imbalance between the outgoing and incoming current. It keeps people from being electrocuted. They are recommended for outlets near water including outdoors and in bathrooms and kitchens. You can tell if yours are GFCI outlets by looking for the reset button (usually red) on the outlet.

Extension Cord Safety Tips

About 3,300 residential fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 others. In addition, 4,000 people a year are treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with extension cords. Half of these injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains as a result of people tripping over the cords. Follow these rules for using extension cords.

  • Inspect the Cord
    Look for cracks, loose connections at the ends, or damaged coverings and loose or bare wires. Throw away any cords that are in poor condition.
  • Check for Indoor/Outdoor Rating
    If using outside, make sure the extension cord is labeled for outdoor use.
  • Use GFCI-Protected Outlets
    Plug outdoor electrical decorations into GFCI-protected outlets to prevent shock.
  • Protect Cords from Damage
    To avoid shock or fire hazards, cords should never be smashed by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors and windows where they can be pinched, placed under rugs, located near heat sources, or attached by nails or staples.
  • Watch Out for Water
    Keep outdoor connections above-ground and out of puddles.
  • Don’t Stretch Extension Cords over Walkways
    This can cause a tripping hazard. It’s best to run extension cords alongside walkways when possible.

Other Common Hazards

  • Space Heaters
    Space heaters result in far more fires than central furnaces. Never leave one unattended or around pets or children without supervision. Make sure it is not near carpets, rugs, drapery, bedding or anything else flammable.  
  • Carbon Monoxide
    This is one of the most preventable hazards. Install a CO detector in your home today. They are inexpensive and plug right into a wall outlet. It can save your life!

Always have a working fire extinguisher on hand, and know how to operate it. We hope these tips will keep you safe this holiday season. If you need any electrical help, just call us at Herrmann Services at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.