Holiday Lighting Safety Tips

One of the biggest causes of home fires is holiday lighting gone bad. Here are a few tips on how to keep your home both beautiful and safe throughout the holiday season.

INDOOR SAFETY

Don’t overload circuits

Typical household branch circuits are 15 amps, and this is plenty of capacity for normal household use, but adding large numbers of holiday lights and accessories, especially the larger C7 and C9 incandescent bulbs of yesteryear, can put more load on a circuit than it’s designed for. This can lead to annoying trips to the breaker box or fuse panel, but it’s also a warning sign that trouble is lurking. If you keep tripping breakers, if outlets or cords feel warm, or if you notice any off-smells around outlets or service panels, disconnect the lights and move them to another circuit to avoid creating a fire hazard.

LED lights come in nearly all sizes, colors, and shapes for holiday lighting, last longer, burn cooler, and draw much less current than incandescent bulbs. We highly recommend them for all your lighting needs.

Don’t exceed extension cord capacity

Extension cords are rated to carry a specific load. When that’s exceeded, the cords can become overheated, melting insulation and causing short circuits and fires. Feel your cords when all the lights are on. If they feel warm to the touch, replace them with higher capacity cords. Better yet, arrange your lighting so you don’t need extension cords at all.

Don’t run extension cords under carpet or rugs

Modern building codes require wall outlets to be spaced at least every 12 feet, but older homes may not conform to this, necessitating the use of extensions. Use them if you must, but realize that even a properly sized extension cord gets warm under load. When they’re run under rugs or carpet, this heat can’t dissipate and can lead to the same problems as an undersized cord.

Protect extension cords from pets and trip hazards

Dogs and cats love to chew on things, and an exposed cord can be a real temptation. Aside from the risk of accidental electrocution, gnawed-away insulation presents the danger of short circuits and fires. Pets roam the house at all hours, so check your electrical cords periodically for damage.

Run any cords safely away from traffic areas to prevent trip hazards (but not under rugs or carpet).

Don’t let your tree or wreaths dry out

With all the holiday chores, it’s easy to cut corners. One of the most overlooked tasks is keeping your greenery moist. Check the water levels in tree stands and containers and discard any vegetation that starts to turn brown or feels brittle to the touch before it becomes a fire hazard.

OUTDOOR SAFETY

Chances are your outdoor holiday lighting is in place by now, but presuming you survived setting it up, or at least have healed, there are still some things you need to watch.

Protect cords from damage

Make sure any cords are run safely away from hazards like snow and ice removal or vehicle traffic.

Eliminate trip hazards

Run cords away from places they could trip family and visitors.

Use only outdoor outlets with GFCI protection

Wet weather and electricity don’t play well together. Outdoor outlets are designed to keep connections safe and dry. Current codes require any damp area outlets to have GFCI protection to prevent electrical shock. That includes basements and garages, so don’t run cords from unprotected outlets in those area.

Be safe when hanging, maintaining, and removing outdoor lights

Make sure ladders are resting on firm footing and don’t overextend your reach. And stay safely away from power lines when using and moving ladders, especially metal ones.

 

The pros at Allstar Electrical Services want to extend our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a wonderful and joyful holiday season. We look forward to serving your electrical needs through the remainder of the year and many more to come.

Give us a call or visit our web site, allstarelectrical.com, for any of your holiday electrical needs, and for help on your projects in the coming year.

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