Decorative lighting and you

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By taking extra precautions, abiding by safety rules and practicing energy efficiency, families can save money and help prevent accidents when placing decorative Christmas lighting inside and outside their homes this holiday season.

Many holiday mishaps, electrical shocks and dangerous fires can often be prevented by following the dos and don'ts to keep the holidays happy and safe.

*Do check for cracked or loose sockets and connections, exposed wires, and frayed, broken or scorched insulation before plugging in any lights - old or new. Then put the lights on a nonflammable surface and plug them in for 15 minutes to check for melting, smoking or overheating. Throw away any strings showing flaws.

*Do make sure your lights are safety certified. Look for a label that says "UL Listed."

*Do protect small children and pets by using plastic safety covers on all unused outlets and keeping cords out of sight or reach. A cord as short as 12 inches can strangle a child.

*Do water your real Christmas tree every day and keep light strings from coming into direct contact with branches. If you have an artificial tree, make sure it's fire retardant.

*Do make sure the lights and extension cords you use outside are certified for outdoor use and are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet.

*Do keep decorations and ladders away from overhead electrical lights and power lines.

*Do follow the manufacturer's guidelines on how many strings of lights can be safely connected together.

*Don't leave lights on while you're sleeping or away from home. If you tend to forget, use a timer.

*Don't plug in more than three strings into an extension cord.

*Don't use metal staples or nails as fasteners for lights. This can damage the protective insulation covering the wires.

*Don't leave extension cords out in the open and/or at levels where small children or pets can come in contact with or chew them.

*Don't run extension cords across sidewalks or driveways.

From our place to yours, please follow these dos and don'ts to ensure you have the merriest Christmas and the happiest holidays.