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.
- Don’t overload circuits
Typical household branch circuits are 15 amps, and that 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.
- Switch to LED Lights
LED lights come in nearly all sizes, colors, and shapes for holiday lighting —including the retro-look C7 & C9 bulbs. These bulbs last years longer (some up to 13 years). LEDs burn cooler and draw much less current than incandescent bulbs. We highly recommend them for all your lighting needs year-round.
- Don’t exceed extension cord capacity
Extension cords are rated to carry a specific load, which is indicated on the packaging. 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 can get 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 small children
Dogs and cats (and even toddlers) love to chew on things, and an exposed cord can be a real temptation. Aside from the risk of electrocution, gnawed-away insulation presents the danger of short circuits and fires. And tangled cords can be a strangulation hazard, too.
Pets roam the house at all hours, even when you’re sleeping, so check your electrical cords frequently for damage.
- Avoid tripping hazards
Run electrical cords safely away from traffic areas to prevent trip hazards (not under rugs or carpet). If you must run a cord across a threshold or other open area, use a cord protector, available at hardware and home improvement centers.
- Don’t let your tree or wreaths dry out
It’s easy to overlook 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.
The pros at Allstar Electrical extend our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a safe 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.