This the season for beautiful decorations and sparkling lights. Tons of families have already begun decorating their houses with lights and setting up their Christmas tree. But it’s important to remember that there are always safety hazards when handling anything electrical. Please look over these tips to ensure you and your family have a safe and healthy holiday.
Outdoor and Indoor Lights
• If putting lights up outside, do not run your extension cord from an indoor outlet.
• Make sure the lights you’re planning to hang around your home are approved for outdoor use. Using lights approved for indoor use only is an electrical/fire hazard – they do not do well in outside weather. Lights should have a holographic UL mark on its packaging. Red means that it’s okay to use both inside and outdoors. Green means it is for indoor use only. This applies to extension cords as well.
• Use LED lights. LED light strings can be connected together, without the use of an extension cord. As a bonus, LED lights are good for the environment due to their low wattage, consuming about 95% less electricity than regular bulbs. Always read the manufacturers guide that comes with LED lights.
• Extension cords come with a wattage rating. Check if anything you’ll be plugging into it exceeds its wattage rating. Overheating may occur if exceeded. When extension cords are not in use, remove them from the outlet and store them inside, even if they are approved for outdoor use.
• A lot of people save their lights and use them year after year. If they are over three years old, however, it would be safer to discard them. Before hanging them up anywhere, be sure to check thoroughly if there are any problems with your lights. Check the wiring, check if any bulbs aren’t working and check any extension cords too. Even if it’s brand new, check. And do not change any bulbs or make other repairs while it’s plugged in. If there is any unfixable damage play it safe and throw it away.
• Having a bulb replaced is better than a bare socket that risks shock. If you do have to replace any bulbs in a string of lights, be sure that it has the same wattage of the light string. Even using a single bulb with a higher wattage is dangerous.
• When you leave the house or go to sleep, always turn your lights off be they hung outside or wrapped around your Christmas tree. Every so often, check bulbs and make sure they do not feel warm.
• If you use a ladder to hang up your lights, use one made of non-conductive material (such as wood). Metal ladders risk electrical shock.
• If you use nails to put up your lights, consider using clips instead. Nails can damage the cord.
• Make sure your outlets aren’t faulty, do not use if there are any problems such as:
- Broken/cracked outlets.
- Warm or discoloured outlets.
- Sparks from an outlet.
- Continued problems with blowing fuses or circuit breakers tripping.
- A tingling feeling when touching an electrical appliance.
- Burning smells or any kind of rubbery odor.
- Lights that flicker.
A professional electrician is required.
(with tips not necessarily related to electricity but it doesn’t hurt to include)
• Any lights to be placed on the tree should follow the above measures, such as thoroughly checking the wiring and bulbs before use.
• If you are planning to have an artificial Christmas tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
• A newly cut, green tree is always your best choice, and avoid old, dried out trees. They pose a greater fire hazard. The needles should be securely attached to the branches and should not snap when folded between your fingers. Thicker needles are better. Holding the tree upright and hitting the stump against the ground is a good test to see if the needles are secure – if they fall off try another tree.
• Your tree stand should have at least a gallon capacity for an average six footer. Or, for every inch of the trunk’s diameter you’ll need one quart of water. Keep the tree well hydrated and water it daily. Watering it will lower the fire risk. Cutting the bottom of the stump before placing it in the stand, just a couple of inches, will help keep it hydrated better.
• Christmasy candles are nice, but they should be placed at least three feet minimum from the tree. This goes for any other source of heat like a fireplace or a heating vent. In general, don’t put anything that can burn near any source of heat.
Don’t forget to test your fire alarms while you’re checking everything else.
Call B&G Electrical if you are having any electrical troubles.
Phone: (904) 620-0081
Toll Free: (800) 965-0081
Fax: (904) 620-9815
Have a safe and happy holiday!