When you’re decorating your home for the holidays, electrical safety usually isn’t the first thing on your mind. But it’s important to make sure your electrical decorations are safe for your home and don’t pose a fire hazard. Broken wires, improper hanging methods, and overloading outlets can cause problems. 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
The holidays are hectic, but don’t use that as an excuse to cut corners when decorating. 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. Take the time to inspect it all.
- 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. You can connect eight to ten times more mini LED light strings together end to end while only using one electrical outlet. With traditional Christmas mini lights, you can only connect four to five sets, end to end. LED mini light strings allow you to connect 40 to 50 together, depending on the light count.
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). If you don’t see the label, don’t assume it’s safe to use.
- Only Use Outdoor Rated Extension Cord Outside
If using outside, make sure to check that it is labeled for outdoor use.
- Power Lines Can Be Fatal
If you are using a ladder to put up decorations, or when you’re hanging lights or decorations on trees outside, watch for overhead power lines. Know where they are before you start.
- Always Turn Off Decorations When Going to Bed or Leaving Home
According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), half of all home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. Don’t be a statistic.
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.
TIP: Circuits that frequently trip can indicate too many items are connected to the circuit.
- Use GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Outlets Outdoors
A GFCI outlet is designed to cut off the 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.
- Use Battery-Operated Candles
Open flame 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.
Extension Cord Safety Tips (Betcha You’re Guilty of Violating a Few)
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. Not all injuries due to extension cords are electrical. Half of them 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.
Spring is in the air, along with pollen and allergens that wreak havoc with asthma and allergy sufferers. Let’s look at some ways to improve our indoor air quality, and how to know when it’s time to call in the professionals. As homeowners, there are many things we can do on our own. It is equally important to know when to step back and turn over the reins to someone more knowledgeable. The team at Herrmann Services put together this list of DIY tips that will help reduce allergy
10 Homeowner Tips to Reduce Allergens Indoors
- Keep windows closed (to keep the pollen out).
- Check with your local nursery for plants that improve indoor air quality (make sure they are not toxic to pets).
- Place pillows and stuffed toys in a laundry bag and place them in a deep freeze for a few hours. The lower temperature will kill dust mites.
- Where possible, adopt a no-shoes policy inside the home to keep dirt, dust, and allergens out.
- Seal windows, door frames, electrical outlets, and recessed lighting with caulk or foam to keep out dust and pollen that collects in crawl spaces, basements, garages, and outdoors.
- Purchase an inexpensive humidity monitor and aim for a reading of 35-50%; high humidity can lead to mold growth, while dry air can cause dry/bloody noses, chapped lips, and itchy skin.
- Check your attic insulation, rafters, and floor joists for wet spots.
- See that your heating & air appliances are cleaned regularly according to manufacturer’s specifications. This may be as simple as replacing your filters.
- Invest in an electronic air cleaner which can remove up to 99.98% of airborne allergens from heating and cooling devices, working 100% better than a filter.
- Install an in-duct air purifier. The REME HALO® is effective against all three categories of indoor air pollutants: particulates, microbial and gases.
If Allergy Problems Persist, Call for Professional Indoor Air Quality Help
If you’re still suffering after trying all of the DIY measures mentioned above, or if you find some of the following problems, call Herrmann Services and we’ll help you get comfortable breathing the air in your home again. Call us when:
- Humidity levels are 60% or higher.
- You find wet spots in your attic on insulation, rafters, or floor joists.
- Manufacturer’s specifications on your furnace and AC recommend.
- Allergy symptoms don’t lessen. You may need to upgrade to a HEPA filter.
Your health and your home are two of your most valuable investments. Treat them both wisely by improving your indoor air quality. Call us at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online today for More Information for a home quote!
It’s no secret that weather can be unpredictable in the spring. Storms tend to pop up without notice and can sometimes be severe, leaving you little time to prevent damage to your home. Fortunately, with a few tips and tricks, you can troubleshoot nearly every problem that comes your way. Here are four great tips to weather spring storms in Ohio from the team at Herrmann Services.
1. Protect Your Sump Pump
Some homes’ foundations are built below the water table line and their basements are prone to flooding. Sump pumps serve as an excellent defense to keep basements dry by pumping out excess water. Occasionally sump pumps fail during severe storms after becoming overwhelmed with the amount of water coming in. To protect your home, ensure that your system is up to the challenge by checking to following:
- Most importantly, be sure that you have a battery backup sump pump. During storms, your power can go out leaving your sump pump unable to operate. Your basement can flood if you don’t have an alternate power source to keep your pump operational.
- Protect your system from clogs. Keeping your discharge lines clear and covered will help to protect them from clogging and backing up into your home.
- Keep up with your inspections. Consult your owner’s manual to decide how often you should have your pump inspected and serviced. If you suspect any problems, have your system looked at right away. One quick way to test your sump pump is to take the lid off the sump pit and pour a five-gallon bucket of water into the pit. The motor should kick on and drain the water immediately. If it doesn’t, you may have to call for service.
2. Secure Outdoor Hazards
In the event of inclement weather, firstly, make sure to check outdoors for items that need to be secured or put away. Common items that could cause damage to your home during high winds include patio umbrellas, tables, chairs, yard decorations, grills, and stacked firewood.
3. Check Doors and Windows
It sounds like a no-brainer, but simply checking to make sure windows are closed and storm doors are latched will save you costly damage caused by water coming into your home or a loose storm door blowing in high winds.
4. Turn Off Your Air Conditioner
A power surge can cause significant damage to an air conditioning unit during a storm. As a result, cutting power to your unit at the circuit breaker, or turning the unit off at your thermostat can prevent costly damage in the event of a lightning strike. Your home may get a little stuffy, but as soon as the storm is over, you can turn in back on.
With a quick plan in place, you can take precaution to protect your home and systems in the event of a spring thunderstorm. Call us today at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online for more information.
At Herrmann Services, we care about our customers. While we know a lot about heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical services, we know many of our customers don’t. That’s why we thought this blog about home safety was worth sharing. Please read it and share it especially with anyone you know who has small children in their home.
Common Home Accidents
According to the CDC, each day over 300 children between the ages of 0-19 are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries. These injuries are often caused by burns from hot liquids or steam, or from electrical items like curling irons or coffee pots. Electrical shock is also a common injury.
Tips for Protecting Children in Every Room of Your Home
Hidden dangers lurk in every room, so be sure to check all of the things on this list to make sure each room is safe.
Kitchen Safety Tips
- Prevent scalding by setting the water heater’s maximum heat at 120 F/49 C.
- Prevent electrical burns by keeping small appliances out of the reach of children, and away from the kitchen sink.
- Prevent scalding and burns by keeping the handles to pots and pans on the stove turned away from where little hands can reach them.
Bathroom Safety Tips
- Never leave a small child or baby unattended in the bathroom.
- Unplug hair dryers, curling irons, etc., when not in use, and keep away from the bathtub and sink.
Bedroom & Living Area Safety Tips
- Make sure all cords from window blinds are out of the reach of children. These pose a strangulation hazard.
- Place outlet covers over all electrical outlets that are not in use.
- Make sure all electrical cords are undamaged, and replace them if they are.
- Avoid using extension cords.
- Avoid using space heaters.
- Keep curious babies away from outlets, cords, and electrical items, large and small, including televisions.
Overall Home Safety Tips
- Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home. Test it and change batteries regularly (at least twice a year). Learn more about protecting your family from carbon monoxide here.
- If you notice an unusual odor, flickering lights, or power surges, have the home’s electrical system checked.
- In case of fire, develop an escape plan, establish a meeting point, and communicate and practice the plan with all family members.
- Teach your children proper emergency contacts, as well as how and when to call 911.
We hope these safety tips help keep your home and family safe from injuries and fire. Feel free to print these off for any first-time parents you may know.
Please call Herrmann Services if you need any heating, cooling, plumbing, or electrical help. Call us at (513) 407-5177 or contact us online to request service.