Electrical safety tips for holiday decorating

Everyone has at least one — the house on the street that lights up in splendor around the holiday season. Decorations are in abundance both indoors and out, and just seeing the house brings on a smile. But as beautiful as it might be, that home may also be a safety risk if the decorator hasn’t followed precautions like these offered by CSA Group:

Creativity is key but not at the cost of safety — Let your inner designer shine, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when arranging electrical items, such as lights and electronic decorations. Be sure to turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working with outdoor wiring, and never run an electrical cord through a doorway or under a carpet indoors.

Fakes are no laughing matter — Your next door neighbor dressed up as Santa is funny. Counterfeit decorations are not so funny. Look for the mark from an accredited certification organization, such as CSA Group, on animated displays, light strings and extension cords. Ensure decorations are marked and certified for outdoor use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Keep the mood light but not fiery — Choose flame-resistant decorations and don’t place open flames or candles near flammable materials, such as wreathes, trees or paper decorations. Never nail or tack lighting strings to a wall, as this may damage insulation and create a shock or fire hazard. Use insulated fasteners rather than metal nails or tacks that could damage wiring to hold light strings in place.

Cozy up — Keep warm by the fireplace but be sure your gas appliances are in good working order. If the pilot light or flame goes out, turn the gas off and wait five minutes or longer (see the manufacturer’s instructions) before attempting to relight. Be alert for unusual odors or flames when your gas fireplace is on, often indicating that the fireplace is not operating properly. In such cases, contact your dealer or licensed technician for servicing.

Overload on food, not watts — Don’t overload extension cords. Use heavy duty extension cords for high wattage decorations and large electronically-animated displays.

For extreme decorators, make sure your house is capable of handling the electrical load of multiple lights and decor. If in doubt, contact a licensed professional to inspect your electrical system.

Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:06 am