A house lit up with Christmas lights is
a beautiful sight to behold. But
stringing lights across your roof and
around your home can be a real safety
hazard if you’re not careful. So before
you flip the switch to dazzle friends
and family with your spectacular light
show, take a few moments to run through
a quick safety checklist.
• Before you string up a single strand
of lights, carefully check them for
cracked or frayed ends or
loose connections. Do not use damaged lights.
• The combination of shorts in
electrical lights and a tinder-dry tree
can be deadly. There are 250
Christmas tree fires and 14 related deaths each year, according to the U.
S. Fire Administration.
So keep your tree well-watered. Not only will it stay fresh and green,
but it might also keep your
house from burning down.
• If you choose a metal Christmas tree,
do not hang lights on it. There are
several risks associated
with metal lights and trees, including a high likelihood of fire and
electric shock injuries.
• Modern lights have fused plugs,
preventing sparks in case of a short
circuit. Ditch strands of
lights that don’t have fuses and get a set of newer, safe lights.
• If bulbs have burned out, replace them
right away. Unplug the lights before
removing bulbs, and
make sure you use the correct wattage bulbs.
• Water and debris can get into outdoor
sockets, so make sure outdoor lights are
plugged into a
ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to reduce the risk of shorts and
• Keep an eye on extension cords, as
they can occasionally overheat. Just
touch-test the cord. If
it’s hot, unplug it.
• Don’t use tacks, nails or screws to
hang lights. They can pierce the cable
and become electrified.
Use insulated hooks instead.
running extension cords along the
ground, make sure to elevate plugs and
with a brick to keep snow, water and debris out of the connections.
• Tape down any ground-level extension
cords to prevent people from tripping
for overloaded plugs. You should fit one
plug per socket unless you use a bar
a lead. But don’t plug appliances into the adapter that collectively use
more than 13 amps of
current, and avoid daisy chaining extension cables.
• Check to make sure lights have been
rated by a testing laboratory. You can
see a list of federally
recognized labs on the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s
• Some lights can generate a
considerable amount of heat. Keep lights
clear of decorations and
other flammable materials.
• Water and electricity don’t mix. Don’t
leave appliances plugged in where they
might come into
contact with water.
• Not all lights are rated for outdoor
use. Indoor lights often have thinner
insulation, which can
become cracked and damaged when exposed to the elements outdoors. So make
sure the ones
you string up on the house belong out there.
• Don’t leave Christmas lights on when
you go to bed at night or when you leave
• Children and holiday lights can be a
dangerous combination. Kids like shiny
objects, but playing
with holiday lights can be very dangerous. Never let them play with
lights, electrical decorations
• When you pack up your lights into
storage after the holidays, make sure to
put them in a well-
sealed container to prevent possible water damage and to block hungry
rodents looking to turn
the cords into lunch.
• Final advice: Be careful with ladders.
A home electrical inspection makes a
great gift. Many potential electrical
hazards can be identified during an
inspection, allowing them to be
corrected before tragedy strikes. Unlike
gifts that may be quickly forgotten,
your loved ones will continue to benefit
from the gift of safety long after the
holidays have passed.
Ranges and ovens are involved in a
number of thermal burn injuries seen in
U. S. hospital emergency rooms each
year. Many of the victims are younger
than age five. Keep little kitchen
helpers in check:
• Never leave the kitchen when
something’s cooking—a fire or accident
can happen in an instant.
• Keep children at least three feet away
from all cooking appliances.
• Never hold a child while cooking or
when removing hot food from the
microwave, oven or stove.
• Turn pot handles in, away from
• Use the back burners on the cooktop
• Hot tap water scalds can be prevented
by lowering the setting on water heater
120 degrees Fahrenheit or below and by installing anti-scald devices in
• Once your holiday meal is ready, check
that the stove and oven are turned off
and that other
kitchen appliances are unplugged and out of reach.