Avoid Electrical Hazards this Holiday with Resources from ESFI

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Comprehensive holiday safety resources now available on ESFI's website

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

Results from an 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 can result from holiday decorations and activities. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 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 holiday resources include a practical infographic titled “Prevention: It’s the Gift that Keeps Giving,” which provides tips on eliminating common holiday hazards, tips on avoiding counterfeit electrical products, and a short animated video featuring a gingerbread house to warn about the dangers of over-decorating. Further, ESFI’s holiday-themed website, http://www.holidaysafety.org, provides a comprehensive library of additional infographics and 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. “Taking simple precautions such as not overloading outlets and watering the Christmas tree daily could help ensure that this festive time of year does not result in tragedy.”

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.
  • Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
  • 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
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