Avoid Electrical Hazards this Holiday with ESFI's Safety Resources

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New holiday resources include animated video, infographic.

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The hectic yet joyous nature of the holiday season can easily distract families from thinking about the hazards associated with this time of year, which is why it is important to educate the public on how to remain safe during their celebrations.

As part of its annual holiday safety awareness campaign, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is urging families and communities across the country to Make Safety a Tradition, by offering information and resources that promote safety during the holiday season.

Results from a 2013 ESFI consumer survey indicate that more than 86% of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, there are many electrical hazards that go hand in hand with the splendor of the season. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 230 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.

ESFI’s new holiday resources include a practical infographic titled “Avoid the 12 Dangers of Christmas,” which breaks down common holiday hazards as demonstrated by a naughty holiday elf, and a new short animated video featuring a gingerbread house and its inhabitants that warns about the dangers of over-decorating. Further, ESFI’s holiday-themed website, http://www.holidaysafety.org, provides a comprehensive library of resources to keep families safe during all facets of the holiday season.

“A proactive approach to safety is essential to keeping family, friends, and guests safe during all of their holiday season activities,” said ESFI President Brett Brenner. “The hectic yet joyous nature of the holiday season can easily distract families from thinking about the hazards associated with this time of year, which is why it is important to educate the public on how to remain safe during their celebrations.”

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, http://www.holidaysafety.org, for all of the tools you need to Make Safety a Tradition of the holiday season.

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Julie Chavanne
Electrical Safety Foundation International
+1 (703) 841-5935
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