Posted on December 17, 2018 in Firm News
Holiday lights and Christmas trees are fun and festive decorations for the Christmas season, but it is vital to acknowledge the fire risk these items can pose to your family and property. If you intend to decorate a Christmas tree with electrical lights in your home or hang strings of lights outside around your property, it is essential to keep a few basic safety tips in mind to protect you and your loved ones.
Fire Risks from Holiday Decorations
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) reported that more than 86% of American homes decorate with electrical lights for the Christmas season. Two-thirds of the respondents to the ESFI consumer survey reported using electrical lights for indoor decorations, and about half reported using them for outdoor decorations. Sixty percent of lighting displays require the use of extension cords. If you plan to use any electrical lights for holiday decorating, keep a few safety tips and best practices in mind to minimize the chance of a fire.
Opt for LEDs If Possible
LED lights pose fewer fire risks than incandescent lights, and they are more energy efficient. They may be a bit more expensive, but they consume less electricity and generate much less heat than incandescent holiday lights.
Never Leave Lights Unattended
Do not leave holiday lights on if you leave your home for any length of time. Fires can spread quickly, so if a light string short-circuits with no one there to notice, the fire can grow out of control. Consider using automatic lights with shut-off timers or remote controls that allow you to easily turn your lights on and off whenever you leave the house.
Never Use Indoor Lights Outside
Indoor and outdoor lights have specific designations for a reason; outdoor lights typically have much more insulation from moisture than indoor lights. If you use a string of indoor lights outside, moisture can cause the lights to short-circuit that can lead to a serious electrical fire.
Calculate Wattage per Outlet
You may want to connect several strings of lights together to form a longer chain, but it is important to calculate the power consumption per outlet. Generally, avoid using more than three strands of lights per outlet. You may need to calculate the maximum watt capacity of the outlet before using it, and you can use a surge protector or a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker for additional safety.
Consider an Artificial Christmas Tree
Christmas trees are the leading cause of fires around the holidays. While many people prefer the look, feel, and smell of a real tree, artificial trees are safer options. A real tree needs watering every day to prevent it from drying out. A dried-out Christmas tree can go up in flames in seconds, so you need to remove a dried-out tree from your home immediately. Most artificial trees sold in stores contain fire-resistant materials and come pre-lit, saving you time and money as well as limiting the risk of a tree fire in your home.
Childproof Your Decorations
If you have children or if your visitors bring their kids for the holidays, make sure your lights and decorations are out of reach of little hands. Candles are an especially dangerous fire hazard around small children who may pull them down from their displays and suffer burns or injuries from hot wax. Candles can also easily cause a house fire if kept near drapes or linens, paper, or other flammable materials.
These are just a few of the ways you can limit your fire risk this holiday season. Keep these tips in mind and decorate responsibly for a safe and enjoyable Christmas season this year.