This time of year, pulling out those string lights and holiday décor items is on your to-do list. About 43 percent of people who celebrate the winter holidays begin decorating before Thanksgiving, and most use decorations from years past. As fun as it is to make your house twinkle in the spirit of the season, you must be conscious of the risks that come along with these electrical decorations.
Holiday decoration fires and Christmas tree fires are commonly the result of the improper or unsafe use of electrical decorations. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about one-third of all home fires occur from December to February, and over one-third of home fire deaths occur during these months.
While the uptick in house fires through these months has many causes, electrical fires caused by the use of holiday decorations are a part of these statistics. Unfortunately, these types of fires are often more destructive and dangerous than typical household fires. Take a look at a few electrical safety tips to keep your home safer through the holiday season.
1. Check Decorations for Damage Before Use
One of the most important things to do before hanging your electrical decorations is to check those decorations for damage first. About 150 fires are caused every year by decorative holiday lights, and this is usually because the lights are damaged to a point that they are unsafe. Before using old decorations, make sure:
- There are no broken light bulbs stuck in sockets
- There are no areas of exposed wire
- The fuses are not blown or missing
- The lights work properly without flickering when they shouldn't
- There are no sockets torn off, leaving wires exposed
Even if you have purchased new string lights or electrical decorations, it is important to check them out before use.
2. Keep Real Trees Well Hydrated
Between 2004 and 2008, there were 260 residential fires that were caused by or started at the Christmas tree. If you use a real tree, keep the tree well hydrated throughout the season. A dry tree will ignite easily if it comes in contact with a light that is burning a little too hot or an exposed wire on your decorations. A hose and funnel make it easy to deliver water to the tree if you can’t reach the base.
Even artificial trees can be a fire safety hazard if they have electrical problems or are outfitted with old strings of lights. If you use an artificial tree, especially one that is pre-lit, check the wires and lights on the tree before you plug it in.
3. Don't Overload Electrical Outlets
Overloaded electrical outlets are a serious fire hazard, and you will be more likely to overload outlets when you are decorating your house with electrical holiday lights, candles, and other items. Be mindful of the wattage availability of any outlet, and restrict usage of decorations to only what the outlet can accommodate safely.
Additionally, it is important to not overcrowd an outlet because the plug-ins can come loose from the receptacle and generate a spark. Almost 2,000 of the 5,300 annual household fires caused by an overloaded outlet happen during the holidays, so it is important to be careful. Evenly distribute electrical decorations to different outlets and use surge-protecting power strip extensions where you can.
To have a safe holiday season, you must be mindful of how you use electricity for your decorations. As fun as it is to decorate with electrical items, safety is most important. If you need help with electrical issues in your home before the holiday season or you would like more safety tips, reach out to us at Supreme Electric for professional assistance.