Important Tips for Christmas Light Safety

christmas lights outletThe holiday season is a time for family and celebration, which often involves decorations. A classic Christmas decoration used in about 86% of American homes is Christmas lights. While the lights add a twinkling cheer to the holiday festivities, as with any electrical item they also add an increased risk of fire. Fortunately, we have Christmas light safety tips to help keep your home safe from fire damage this year.

Check Your Lights

Before you begin hanging up your lights, be sure to go over older sets to check for any damages. Loose connections, broken sockets, and bare wires mean the strand should be disposed of and replaced. Make sure to also replace any burned out bulbs as soon as possible with bulbs of the same wattage. You may also consider replacing older light sets with newer light sets that have fused plugs, which assist in preventing sparks in the event of a short circuit. When purchasing new lights, make sure they are labeled as tested for safety by an approved testing facility, such as the Underwriter's Lab. Also pay attention to whether the lights are safe for outdoor use or are for indoor use only. Generally, a red label means it can be used indoors or out, while a green label indicates indoor only.

Check Your Extension Cords and Outlets

As with your lights, extension cords should be checked for whether they are made for outdoor use or for indoor use only. When using extension cords outside, make sure the connections are kept above ground to avoid excess water exposure. Do not connect more than three strands of Christmas lights to an extension cord. If you have a strand of the larger C7 or C9 bulbs that contains 100 bulbs, do not connect more than one strand to the extension cord. Make sure you are aware of how much wattage you are using for your Christmas lights and how much wattage your electrical circuit can handle. Overloading a circuit is a major fire hazard. Lights should only be connected to outlets with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). A GFCI will current down if an overcurrent is present in the circuit. Your electrician can install a permanent GFCI, or a portable GFCI can be purchased at most home improvement stores. Home Fire Escape Plan
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