Holiday Electrical Safety

Decorating your home can give your electrical system a workout with more load to the outlets. Use these safety precautions to create a festive and accident-free holiday this seaon.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

Holiday Electrical Safety Planning to light up your house for the holidays offers so many possibilities because of the many lighting decorations available. The majority of the holiday decorations involve plugging them into an electrical outlet to sparkle, brighten and lighten your home. Follow this advice about how to prevent the risk of fire hazards and electrical shock during the holiday season.

  • Inspect holiday lights and extension cords before decorating. Replace any that are fraying or damaged. Pay special attention to lights, cords or decorations that may have been damaged from winter weather conditions.
  • Check for red or green UL marks on all light strings and extension cords. The green holographic UL Mark means the light strings should be used only indoors. The red holographic UL Mark indicates the light strings can be used both inside and out -- and can withstand conditions related to outdoor use.
  • Follow manufacturer's guidelines for stringing light sets together. As a general rule, UL recommends using no more than three standard-size sets of lights together.
  • Hang or mount light strands carefully to avoid damaging the cord's insulation.
  • Do not overload extension cords or electrical receptacles.
  • Unplug all holiday lights when you go to sleep or leave home.
  • Plug outdoor decorations into outlets protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) to prevent shock.
  • Automatic lighting timers can be used to ensure that lights are not left on. These are available for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Roll up excess electrical cords and keep them away from high traffic areas. Do not run electrical cords under rugs.
  • Never keep an extension cord plugged in when it is not in use.
  • When replacing a light bulb, be sure to use the correct bulb size (wattage) that is right for the fixture.
  • Use safety caps to keep children from putting things into electrical receptacles outlets.

Here's an infographic from Michaels about using the right amount of lights, garlands and ornaments based on your tree height Michaels Guide to a Guilded Tree.

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