Autumn is the start of the holiday season, which means Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are just around the corner. At this time of the year, people begin to decorate their homes with festive decorations to really embrace the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, the glowing bright lights and decor can lead to potential risks in your home. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), every year roughly 150 home fires start from holiday lights and other decorative lighting leading to 8 deaths, 16 injuries, and $8.9 million in property damage.
The last thing you want to see is your home up in flames, so it’s important to understand what safety measures to take before decorating your home. Let’s take a closer look at these safety tips for holiday lights.
Never Overload an Outlet or Power Strip
Even when it’s not the holiday season, it’s never a good idea to overload an outlet or power strip. If you are finding yourself using a bunch of power strips, then it is clear that your power needs exceed the number of outlets you have and you’re setting yourself up for a fire hazard.
Always Use Power Strips That Qualify For The Designed Usage
Understanding the power requirements for an indoor or outdoor power strip is important when deciding where to plug in lights and holiday decor. Never use an indoor power strip for outdoor decorations because they typically have a lower amperage than outdoor ones. Also, outdoor power strips can withstand weather changes and falling debris better than an indoor one.
Do Not Plug Multiple Power Strips Together
Never “daisy chain” or “piggyback” power strips. This means plugging one power strip into another to create more outlets. Power strips do not have the electrical capacity to be used this way and doing this can greatly increase the chance of a fire.
Inspect Lights Before Using Them
- Examine each set of lights, new or old, for bulbs that don’t work, are cracked, or have a loose connection.
- Don’t plug in lights while adjusting them on your house. Inspect the lights and plug them together before hanging.
- Always unplug lights when you are not at home or going to sleep. Investing in a timer will save you the trouble of remembering to turn your lights on and off. It will also help with maintaining your electricity bill!
- Consider using LED lights because they last longer and they don’t get hot when you touch them.
Never Staple or Nail Cords
You should never staple or nail your lights or extension cords to your house. Any penetration through your roof or house can lead to leaks and other damages. Staples and nails could puncture the exterior insulation and uncover wires. This can lead to a fire or even someone being electrocuted. If you need to hang cords or lights up, then consider purchasing insulated holders that are created for that exact purpose.
Be Aware of Water and Ice
Living in Houston means unpredictable weather. Being aware of the weather is crucial when dealing with lights, power strips, or extension cords. Water and electrical cords don’t mix, so make sure they are away from places that have the potential of getting wet is a must-do safe move.
Never Hide or Cover Extension Cords or Power Strips
Never place cords under rugs, doors, or through windows. Electricity produces heat that needs to circulate and if the heat is trapped the greater risk of starting a fire.
Know What You’re Buying
When you buy power strips or extension cords these are the things you should look for:
- Make sure they are Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) certified.
- Buy a power strip or extension cord that has the correct amperage rating for your decorating needs.
- If you choose a power strip or extension cord that has a higher rated amperage than you are looking for, then that is okay. This will help you avoid an overload.
The holidays bring families together and create some of the best memories. Of course, you can’t truly get into the holiday spirit without the bedazzling decorations and lights. But make sure you decorate safely is key in getting through the holidays. Following these simple lighting safety tips can save you from potentially starting a fire.
If you do happen to find yourself in a situation where your holiday lights lead to a fire in your home, not to worry. TGS Insurance is here to help you with all your insurance needs. We will handle everything from finding you the best policy to the claims process.