We have made through the long, warm days of summer. The leaves have fallen. We have put away the Halloween decorations, and the extra five pounds we gained from Thanksgiving has made us add another notch on our belts. You know what that means? Christmas is just around the corner.
In the rush of decorating, shopping, cooking, entertaining and attending extracurricular activities, it might be tempting to short change safety measures you’d never think of doing any other time of year. But don’t.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical problems cause one of every three home Christmas tree fires. And though not common, Christmas tree fires are more serious than typical home fires. One of every 31 reported Christmas tree fires results in a death; just one in 144 typical home fires result in a death. On one wants to be included in any of these statistics.
Here are some things to keep in mind when decorating your home for the holidays:
If you decorate with a real tree, make sure it’s fresh. Needles should not be dropping or coming off easily. If you lift the tree a few inches from the floor, drop it down on its truck and a ring of dead needles forms on the floor, you have a dead tree! Try this: Take a hold of a branch between your thumb and forefinger about 6 inches from the tip. Pull your hand toward you, allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Needles should not come off.
When you get your tree home, cut a few inches off the bottom of the stem and immediately place the tree in water, even if you do not intend to decorate it yet.
Make sure you keep your tree watered daily throughout the holiday.
Don’t put your tree right next to the fireplace or near or over one of the supply vents for heating your home. This will just dry it out faster. And don’t put your space heater right next to it ether. This is just double trouble.
Decorate your tree with new LED lights. Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs or tiny lights, LEDs do not get hot. They also save you money using 75 to 90 percent less electricity for the same amount of light. They also come in a wide range of sizes, colors and multiple lighting patterns.
With any light set, carefully inspect each light and the cord. Make sure there aren’t any cracks or damaged spots. Look for frays or bare wire showing through insulation. Cracked, frayed or bare wires can shock or start a fire.
Before plugging in a string of lights, make sure there is a bulb in each socket and that none are broken. Replace any broken bulbs promptly, as they can cause a blown fuse or other electrical problems. Always make sure lights are unplugged before replacing damaged or broken bulbs. Be sure to use the same type and size of bulbs for replacement.
Do not connect too many strings of lights together or plug too many into one outlet. This could cause the circuit to overload.
Do not string light strands in ways that might damage the cords’ protective covering or mount them with nails or staples. If you are using strands of lights outdoors, be sure they are designed for outdoor use. There should be a tag on them identifying them as UL Listed for outdoor use.
Plug all decorations, especially those used outside, into an outlet protected with a ground-fault circuit interrupter.
Always unplug your indoor holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed. Set your outdoor lights on a timer to save energy and reduce the risk of fire.
Follow these simple guidelines and have a safe and merry Christmas.
Member Services Manager and
Energy Advisor at Fulton County REMC