Enjoy the season and stay safe.
Each year, over 1,000 home structure fires begin with holiday decorations, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Before you hang holiday decorations, consider these safety tips from DP&L.
Before You Hang the Lights
Safety Rating Check
Check whether your lights are designated for indoor or outdoor use and have been tested by a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL). Ensure that ornaments and other decorations that will be near potentially hot lights are flame resistant.
Look for fraying or damaged cords and sockets. Throw away damaged strings of lights. Using them poses an electrical shock and fire hazard. Consider replacing damaged lights with light emitting diode (LED) decorative lights, which use 90% less energy than incandescent strings and are considered safer because they generate less heat. Some manufacturers are offering rebates if you send them your old light sets.
If decorating with a live tree, make sure it is fresh when you purchase it and keep it well watered to help prevent drying. If you use an artificial tree make sure it is fire resistant. Metal trees should not have lights placed on them as the tree may become electrically charged from faulty lights and a person touching the tree could be electrocuted.
Hanging the Lights and Decorations
Avoid Fire Hazards
Hang your lights far from space heaters, fireplaces, radiators, paper products and other potential fire hazards. Put out candles when you leave a room. Children and pets can easily be burned or knock over a candle, which could start a fire.
Be Extra Careful Outside
Work in a dry environment to avoid contact with water and avoid power lines with your ladder and all other equipment. It is safest to use a non-metal ladder and have someone "spot" you when possible. Check that your lights and extension cords are approved for outdoor use. Remember ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection is required for most outdoor electrical sockets. You should remain at least 10 feet away from power lines at all times.
Don't hang lights on nails!
Use insulated holders designed for electrical wires instead of nails and other unsafe holders. Plastic hooks can also be used.
Child and Pet Safety
Place lights, string, ribbon, dreidels and breakable ornaments out of reach of children and pets. If necessary, consider putting the tree in a room that can be closed off to avoid toppling from climbing pets and children. The ASPCA and Humane Society of Dayton also recommend avoiding mistletoe, holly berries and other toxic floral arrangements.
Make sure all electrical cords are long enough so they aren't tight and run them along baseboards to avoid a tripping hazard. When outside, try to elevate extension cords to keep them away from animals and avoid tripping hazards for children and other visitors.
Don't Overload Your Plug
Don't plug extension cords into each other. It is best to use a longer extension cord in instances where your cord is too short. A good rule is to plug no more than three miniature light strings together, but check the directions on your lights for proper use.
Use a Power Strip
Save time and power by plugging decorations into a power strip. Then you only have to unplug or turn off the strip instead of unplugging multiple items.
Don't Block Access to Utility Equipment
Ensure your decorations don't block any means of access to utility equipment, including outlets and meters. Make sure your street address numbers are not hidden by decorations.
Using the Lights
Only Use When Home/Awake
Turn your holiday lights off before leaving home and when asleep. This is not only energy efficient, but safe. Worried you'll forget? Use a light timer.
Take the time to remove and carefully pack your lights. Many products are available to make storing and re-using your lights easy and efficient. These tools can mean less time and money spent on new decorations next year.
At the end of the season, store decorations in a dry, moderate climate.
If someone does suffer electrical shock, turn off the power and call 911 immediately.