Dodge Decorating Dangers This Holiday Season With Resources from ESFI

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As part of its annual holiday safety awareness campaign, Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is urging families and communities across the country "Make Safety a Tradition."

ESFI 2013 Holiday Safety Survey

As part of its annual holiday safety awareness campaign, Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is urging families and communities across the country "Make Safety a Tradition," by offering life-saving information and resources specific to the holiday season. This year’s campaign is themed “Deck the Halls Safely for All,” and provides important information about safe decorating practices and products.

Findings from a 2013 ESFI consumer survey indicate that more than 86% of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, these decorations don’t always make spirits bright. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year, and one-third of these fires are attributed to electrical failures or malfunctions. An additional 150 home fires begin with holiday lights and other decorative lighting.

“Results from ESFI’s holiday survey underscore the need to raise awareness about the unique safety hazards posed by holiday activities and the simple precautions it takes to prevent them,” said ESFI president, Brett Brenner. “We were shocked to learn that one-third of those surveyed do not turn off their indoor decorations before leaving home, and over half don’t always turn off their outdoor decorations before leaving home.”

Follow these basic safety guidelines to help prevent serious electrical and fire hazards as you decorate your home and yard this season:

Avoid using candles when possible. Consider using battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles.

Never leave an open flame unattended. Keep burning candles within sight.

When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.

Water your Christmas tree daily.

When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire resistant.”

Use only electrical decorations and lights that have been approved for safe use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

Carefully inspect each electrical decoration before use. Cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.

Follow the use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations, and always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.

Keep young children away from holiday lights, electrical decorations, and extension cords to prevent electrical shock and burn injuries.

Avoid plugging too many holiday lights and decorations into a single outlet. Overloaded outlets can overheat and cause a fire.

Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation.

Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together, and consider purchasing LED lights, which use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent lights.

Make sure any electrical decorations used outdoors are marked for outdoor use.

Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.

Use caution when decorating near power lines. Contact with a high-voltage line could lead to electrocution.

Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to bed.

Visit ESFI’s holiday safety website,, for all of the tools you need to "Make Safety a Tradition" including the free “Deck the Halls Safely for All” campaign toolkit and for the complete 2013 holiday survey results.


The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety. ESFI proudly sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May, and engages in public education campaigns throughout the year to prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities in the home and the workplace. For more information about ESFI and National Electrical Safety Month, visit

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