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How to Make the Holidays Sparkle without the Sparks

Electrical Tips

Holiday Sparkle PictureEvery year you hear stories about accidents that happen when people are decorating for the holidays: someone gets shocked by an outdoor plug, a ladder touches an overhead power line, a fire damages someone’s home. We don’t want any of that to happen to you this year, so the electricians at Jeremy Services created this Holiday Electrical Safety List to help you avoid these disasters and more. Make sure you play it safe this year by following these guidelines.

Holiday Lights

Check Your Lights for UL Tags – look for a label showing your lights have been tested by an independent testing laboratory
Visual Safety Check – inspect each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections; throw away damaged lights or repair them before using
Avoid Wind Damage – fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage
Don’t Over Connect – use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
Avoid Unattended Lights – turn off your lights on trees and other decorations when you go to sleep or leave your house so they don’t short and start a fire

Electrical Cords

Wear & Tear – check cords for signs of fraying, cracking or kinks, including power tool cords, holiday lights and extension cord

Fit – make sure cord plugs firmly into the outlet because a loose cord can become a shock or fire hazard

Never Use Staples – if you must secure your cord, use plastic wire ties or tape as staples and nails could cause a short and a create a fire hazard

Don’t Put a Cord under a Rug – besides being a tripping hazard, they could also become fire hazards if the cord is frayed; covering a cord can cause it to overheat as well

Never Modify a Plug – never clip off the third prong or file down a wider prong to fit in a socket

Use the Right Type of Extension Cord – extension cords are rated for indoor or outdoor use; only use outdoor cords for outdoor decorating


Outdoor Electrical Outlets

Related Read: Everything Homeowners Need to Know about Outdoor Electrical Receptacles

Outlet Covers – outdoor outlets should have outlet covers to keep rain, snow and ice out

GFCI – ground fault circuit interrupter outlets (look for the test button in the middle of the outlet) should be used outside or anywhere there is water like in kitchens and bathrooms to prevent shock and electrocution

Watch for Water – don’t leave your extension cords, especially the connection points, where water will puddle or gather; when possible, connect them to something off the ground with the outlet(s) pointing down so rain won’t enter

Light Bulbs

Watt’s What – use bulbs with the correct wattage for the fixture; using a higher wattage bulbs can cause fixtures to overheat

CFLs – switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs that provide the same level of light at a lower wattage level; they are cooler and more efficient, too

Do the Twist – always screw bulbs in tightly, as loose bulbs can cause sparks or shorts

Ladder Safety

Ladders – when installing holiday decorations, be sure to watch for overhead wires with tall ladders; contact can be deadly

Buddy System – always wait until someone else is home to get up on a ladder, just in case there would be an accident

Common Sense – use the ladder according to the recommended directions; don’t climb past the safe rung or stretch too far to one side

Christmas Trees

Buy Fire Resistant Trees – look for a tag that tells you this
Real Trees – make sure your tree is fresh when you buy it; your tree is not fresh if the needles fall off easily when bounced on the ground, needles break instead of bending, the end or bottom is not sticky with resin, or if needles are easy to pull from the tree

Tip: before decorating, cut off a couple of inches from the trunk for better water absorption
Avoid Heat Sources – place all trees, real or artificial, away from fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters

LED Dimmers/Timers

There are two types of automatic timers. There are timers with a neutral wire and timers without a neutral wire. LED and fluorescent bulbs don’t work properly with the second type of timer, either because they require a sufficient current to let any electricity flow, or because a current that is too low will damage them. Check to see what kind of timer you have before using it with LED or fluorescent bulbs.

General Electrical Fire Safety Tips

Replace any light switches that feel warm to the touch
Replace any power tools that put off even mild electric shocks
Replace any light switches that flicker
Know where your breaker box is located and label it properly
Never attempt electrical repairs or rewiring without proper certification and experience
Do not put water on an electrical fire; use a dry fire extinguisher or baking soda instead

If you need help with your electrical wiring for holiday decorations, call Jeremy Services. We can install outdoor outlets, add outlets in your eaves, upgrade your breaker box, and perform home electrical safety checks. Give us a call at (913) 375-0070.

Is your electrical panel safe? If you live in a home over 20 years old, it may be time to upgrade or replace it. Download our Electrical Panel Safety Checklist by clicking on the image below: