Decorating the interior and exterior of a home is a beloved holiday season tradition in millions of households. Such decor makes it easy to dive into the festive nature of the season.
Many people could not imagine a holiday season without decorating their homes, and it’s vital that celebrants do so safely. Fire safety is especially important during a time of year when string lights and potentially dried out trees feature so prominently. These fire safety tips can ensure this holiday season is safe.
• Buy the safest lights. It might be tempting to buy the most inexpensive lights, especially given all the extra costs already associated with the holiday season. However, safety should be the utmost priority when buying new lights. Testing laboratories such as CSA, Intertek and UL certify products to ensure they’re safe for use. Products that aren’t certified should be avoided.
• Use lights and cords where they’re intended to be used. The packaging on lights will indicate if the product is intended to be used indoors or outdoors. It’s vital that individuals decorating their homes with lights pay attention to these labels. Never decorate the exterior of a home with interior lights, and vice versa. Extension cords made for indoors also should not be used outdoors and vice versa.
• Be especially careful with candles. Candles should only be burned when adults are in the room and should always be extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed. When burning candles, place them on heat-resistant surfaces that are beyond the reach of curious kids and pets. Never place candles within arm’s length of Christmas trees or houseplants, including poinsettias.
• Ask an electrician to inspect your exterior outlets and circuits. Ground fault circuit interruptor (GFCI) outlets are designed to prevent electric shocks and reduce the risk of electrical fires. Most areas now require new homes be built exclusively with GFCIs, which are recognizable because they feature two buttons between the outlets. But older homes may not be equipped with GFCIs, particularly with exterior outlets. GFCI installation is not an especially expensive job, so homeowners should ask an electrician to inspect their interior and exterior outlets and replace non-GFCIs with GFCIs.
• Do not pinch light cords. Stringing lights can be a hassle, but cords should never be pinched in doors or windows or beneath interior and exterior furniture. Doing so increases the risk of damage to the cord, which in turn increases the likelihood of fire.
• Avoid overloading circuits. Overloaded circuits pose a significant fire hazard. When plugging in lights, choose outlets that aren’t already occupied by devices and other electronics. If need be, unplug appliances like televisions and devices while lights are on and plugged in.
When decorating this holiday season, celebrants are urged to do everything they can to reduce the risk of fire in their homes.