'Tis the season for festive holiday decorations, but are you sure your home is electrically safe?
All that extra electricity usage also introduces some potential hazards. There are over 700 house fires caused by holiday decor every year.
We want to ensure that adding a bit of cheer to your home doesn't come with hidden risks. That's why we compiled a list of our favorite tips to help you enjoy the holidays and keep your family safe.
Follow these holiday electrical safety tips to keep your home fire-and shock-free this season.
Inspect each electrical decoration and cord before you even think about plugging in a single strand of lights. Look for cracks, exposed wires, loose connections, or damaged plugs.
Even minor defects can lead to overheating, shorts, or shocks. Replace anything that looks questionable.
With so many decorations, it's easy to get carried away. Remember not to overload a single outlet or extension cord by plugging in too many lights or appliances. Overloading outlets could produce melted plastic, smoking, blown fuses, or fire.
Always read the labels on your holiday decor and appliances for recommended wattage or amperage use
Use a surge protector with multiple outlets to power several devices at once
If an outlet feels warm or has black marks around it, unplug everything and have it checked by an electrician
Never link over three light strands together
Use heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cords for exterior lighting
Unplug all decorations before going to bed or leaving the house
A dry Christmas tree can be a major fire hazard. Place your tree in a sturdy stand with plenty of water and top it off daily. Check lights for any heat or damage regularly and turn them off when you're not home.
When buying a tree, look for fresh needles that don't fall off the branches. If you have an artificial tree, check the label to ensure its fire-resistant.
LED lights run much cooler than traditional high-wattage incandescent lights. That makes them safer, more energy efficient, and longer lasting. Opt for LED holiday lights in high-traffic areas instead of flammable decorations.
Don't just grab those old dusty extension cords out of storage each holiday season. Inspect all cords each year and discard any that are damaged or degraded.
Look for cracking, loose plugs, and exposed wires. Also, check that ground pins are intact on 3-prong cords. Replace with new indoor/outdoor rated cords as needed.
On Christmas trees, electrical faults often occur where lights contact branches. Avoid wrapping light strands too tight around branches. Take care when positioning lights to reduce the risk of abrasion.
Remember to check for damaged insulation on tree light wires before decorating each year. And keep strands away from metallic tinsel, which could cause shorts.
Light strands and extension cords can get hot, especially if they're covered by decorations or crammed into tight spaces.
Allow ample air circulation so cords don't overheat. Keeping an eye on the cords to ensure they aren't warm to the touch is a good idea. Avoid bundling several cords together.
GFCI adapters provide extra shock protection for outdoor lighting and extension cord use. The adapters track electricity flow and cut power if there's a risk of electrocution. Remember to test GFCIs before each use.
It's easy to focus only on holiday lights when thinking about electrical safety this time of year. But your home's existing lighting also warrants attention.
Check for loose light fixtures, frayed lamp cords, and any signs of overheating that could suggest an unsafe electrical connection. Replace bulbs that have exceeded their recommended lifespan. And don't link installed lights to temporary holiday lighting.
Live trees are serious fire hazards when paired with electrical decorations. Make sure your tree is well watered and located away from heat sources.
Only use lights designed explicitly for tree use that have built-in fuses. Never string conventional light strands on a tree. And never leave tree lights on unattended.
To reduce fire risks, set holiday lights and electrical decorations to turn on and off automatically at set times. Programmable timers and smart home technology make controlling your display's on and off schedule easy. This prevents lights from being left on longer than intended if you forget to unplug them.
With all the extra electricity usage, inspecting your smoke detectors before holiday decorating begins is wise. Replace batteries, address any malfunctioning units, and consider adding detectors if needed. Proper smoke alarm coverage could save your life in an electrical fire.
When decorating outdoors, avoid excessive clustering and overlap of light strands. Use plastic clips or insulated staples to hang lights, keeping connections off the ground and protected from moisture. Keep electrical components away from puddles and sprinkler systems. Water and electricity do not mix!
Connect outdoor lights to circuits protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) for added safety. Never drape lights on metallic trees or fencing.
No list of tips can cover all the potential electrical hazards accompanying holiday decorating. Always remember to use good common sense.
Never take shortcuts regarding safety. Address any risks you identify. Remember to keep a close eye on lights and decorations throughout the season.
With care and attention to detail, you can deck your halls in stunning style without taking any safety risks. Follow these tips for a sparkling, shock-free holiday season. The joy of the season is so much sweeter when you feel safe in your home.
Contact Parker & Sons’ experts in Phoenix and Tucson for more guidance on holiday electrical safety tips. Our technicians can evaluate your home's electrical system and recommend upgrades or repairs for safety and performance.
Check out our special offers to see how much you could save.