With all the holiday melee, cheer and jeer, it is easy to lose sight of fire safety. Keeping fire safety at the forefront of your mind when you’re setting up your decorations can really help prevent destructive, and possibly deadly incidents from souring your holiday.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 25% of Christmas tree fires were triggered by having some type of heat source too close to the tree, like a candle or appliance. While faulty lighting equipment was responsible for 44% of Christmas tree fires.
Let’s face it, most Christmas decor is flammable. From the tree itself, down to the lights, garland and tinsel, the holiday season is filled with hazards. But if you plan accordingly, there are ways to make sure that your family and home are kept safe during this time of celebration.
Holiday Safety Tips
We’ve compiled a checklist with some obvious, and not-so-obvious tips to help you avoid unwanted sparks from flying this holiday season.
- Inspect Lights First – This may sound like a hassle, but it is a very necessary step if you want to avoid your tree or decorations from going up in flames. Plug in each strand of lights before hanging them to see that all of the bulbs work. Carefully inspect the cord for any exposed wiring, frays or damage to the cord itself. If you find any kinked or worn-out strands, immediately dispose of them.
- Don’t Overburden Your Outlets – Overloading outlets is always discouraged, regardless of what time of year it is. This is electrical safety 101, but it bears repeating for those that need to be reminded. Decorating can get hectic and even frustrating at times, which leads to people tossing logic aside and trying to cram that last strand of lights into an already overburdened outlet. Try to avoid this urge at all costs. Yes, there are two plugs on most Christmas lights for a reason, but you should limit to only plugging two strands into a single outlet. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that each year more than 5,000 residential fires are caused by plugging too many electrical devices into an outlet. While your circuit breaker should trip to prevent further damage, if more than one outlet is experiencing the same issue, it could lead to the wiring catching fire.
- Use Power Strips – Power strips are a great solution if you want to avoid overloading outlets. This is an excellent way to maximize the number of lights or devices you can plug in at a single time. Make sure you buy a power strip that has an on/off switch and a built-in surge protector and circuit breaker. That way, if the strip gets overloaded, it will turn itself off instead of tripping your home’s breaker. An added bonus is that you can simply switch the strip off entirely when you go to bed or are away from home.
- Don’t Overload a Circuit – Better understanding what your home electrical system can handle is half the battle. It is also important to know how many circuits you have in your home. A typical household should have 120 volts coursing through it, which is divided up amongst different circuits depending on what part of the house you’re in. This should be enough for you to power up to 70 strands of 50-bulb mini lights in a single circuit. But if you plan on using more than that, try to spread it out amongst multiple circuits in your home to prevent an overload. Things like hairdryers and vacuums tend to put added strain on your circuit. Always be mindful of other appliances that require daily use, and avoid plugging your holiday decorations and appliances into the same circuit.
- Regularly Water Your Tree – Christmas trees are notoriously flammable. Don’t let your tree dry out. A well-watered tree is less likely to catch on fire. The old myth that adding one can of Sprite or Ginger Ale to your tree’s water supply will help it live longer, but that has since been disproven. Your tree doesn’t need added nutrients, just plain old water. Continually check the reservoir and replenish water if it’s running low.
- Space Heater Safety – Use extreme caution when using a space heater. Space heaters should be used sparingly as a temporary heating source. Never plug your space heater into an extension cord. Keep space heaters far and away from your tree or any flammable decorations.
- Check Smoke Detectors – Make sure that smoke detectors are in every bedroom of your home and that the batteries aren’t dead. Fire detectors should also be placed in hallways, common areas and even the basement. The more opportunities you have to be alerted of smoke or fire can be the difference between life and death.
- Keep Fireplace Clear of Clutter and Debris – Everyone loves to cozy up to a fire during the holidays. That being said, make sure to clean out the ashes from your fireplace before starting a new fire. Check to see that the chimney flue is open and/or is unobstructed. Clear the surrounding area of your fireplace of debris. Check for ribbons or stocking that could be dangling too close to an open flame. Also, make sure to have your tree a healthy distance from any fireplace.
- Burn Candles Safely – Candles are a common item found in most households, especially during the holidays. They provide ambiance and you can fill your home with any aroma you like. But the three days a year that candle fires most commonly occur just so happen to be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Be sure to always blow out candles before going to bed and never leave candles unattended.
The holiday season should be a time to enjoy family and get some much needed rest and relaxation. Keep this checklist handy for when Christmas comes around and simply go down the list as you set up your tree and decorations. That way you can stress less knowing you put your family’s safety first.
Safety should always be a priority. Don’t let an electrical fire ruin your holiday. Express Electrical is one of the leading electricians in Los Angeles. Call us today to find out how you can save on your electricity bill this holiday season: (805) 250-6397.