Top 5 Holiday Lighting Safety Tips

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Stay Safe, Santa — and Everyone Else

Nothing quite says the holidays like taking out your boxes of holiday decorations, prying them open, and begrudgingly asking yourself why you haven’t created a better organization system year after year. Once you arrive at the grand task of untangling your holiday lights, you’ll want to make sure you keep safety top-of-mind this season.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation (ESFI), roughly 150 home fires per year start with holiday lights and other decorative lighting, causing 16 injuries and $8.9 million in property damage annually.

“Electrical shock and falling off ladders are big to look out for,” said City Electric Supply (CES) Branch Manager Mike Carter, a former electrician with over 30 years of experience.

1. Inspect and Protect Your Lights

First things first, you’re going to want to make sure you have lights that are properly working and are in good shape. Damaged lights pose numerous threats to safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), lights with broken cords or loose bulb connections must be replaced.

2. Extension Cord Safety

If you’re using holiday lighting this season, chances are, you’re likely using extension cords to power them up. According to ESFI, if your extension cord is damaged, replace it. Additionally, an extension cord should never be plugged into another extension cord.

“Make sure there are no knicks, cuts, or bare copper showing in cords or lights. Make sure your GFCIs are working properly.” Carter added, “If anything is damaged, you really want to just take it and throw it away.”

3. GFCI Certification Matters

As mentioned earlier, when plugging in your lights, whether you’re plugging them into an extension cord or straight into an outlet, you’ll want to make sure those outlets are GFCI-certified. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), GFCI-certified devices protect you from severe electrical shock. Another thing to consider when using GFCI outlets is to pair them with LED lighting, as they use less electricity than other types of lighting.

4. Prevent Falls Before They Happen

According to the CPSC­­­, about 160 Christmas decorating-related injuries happen each day during the holiday season, with over 40 percent of those accidents involving falls.

If you’re using a ladder, ensure it’s safe to use. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ladders should be inspected prior to use. Damaged ladders should be repaired or replaced. Always maintain three-point contact (two hands, one foot) with a ladder. Ladders should remain dry and not slippery. Of course, there are many more ladder safety tips, which you can find in the link above.

Another way falls happen during this time of year is by tripping over extension cords. According to the CPSC, 4,000 injuries occur annually from tripping over extension cords. One way to prevent tripping over cords is to cover cords on the ground using a cable cover or cable mat.

5. Silent Unlit Night

Finally, before retiring to your chamber each night, be sure to unplug the lights on your tree and turn off your lighting outside. Not only is it going to save you money on your energy bill, but it will also provide safety as you sleep. A good way to ensure lights get turned off is to use an electrical timer.

Deck the Halls Safely

Staying alert during these colder months will help keep you, your loved ones, and those around you safe. Decorate this season with ease and find the above products and more at CES­­!

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