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  Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative  
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HOLIDAY Safety tips


Decorating your home

A house lit up with Christmas lights is a beautiful sight to behold. But stringing lights across your roof and around your home can be a real safety hazard if you’re not careful. So before you flip the switch to dazzle friends and family with your spectacular light show, take a few moments to run through a quick safety checklist.

• Before you string up a single strand of lights, carefully check them for cracked or frayed ends or 
  loose connections. Do not use damaged lights.

• The combination of shorts in electrical lights and a tinder-dry tree can be deadly. There are 250
  Christmas tree fires and 14 related deaths each year, according to the U. S. Fire Administration. 
  So keep your tree well-watered. Not only will it stay fresh and green, but it might also keep your
  house from burning down.

• If you choose a metal Christmas tree, do not hang lights on it. There are several risks associated
  with metal lights and trees, including a high likelihood of fire and electric shock injuries.

• Modern lights have fused plugs, preventing sparks in case of a short circuit. Ditch strands of
  lights that don’t have fuses and get a set of newer, safe lights.

• If bulbs have burned out, replace them right away. Unplug the lights before removing bulbs, and
  make sure you use the correct wattage bulbs.

• Water and debris can get into outdoor sockets, so make sure outdoor lights are plugged into a
  ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to reduce the risk of shorts and shocks.

• Keep an eye on extension cords, as they can occasionally overheat. Just touch-test the cord. If
  it’s hot, unplug it.

• Don’t use tacks, nails or screws to hang lights. They can pierce the cable and become electrified.
  Use insulated hooks instead.


• When running extension cords along the ground, make sure to elevate plugs and connectors
   with a brick to keep snow, water and debris out of the connections.

• Tape down any ground-level extension cords to prevent people from tripping over them.


• Check for overloaded plugs. You should fit one plug per socket unless you use a bar adapter on
  a lead. But don’t plug appliances into the adapter that collectively use more than 13 amps of
  current, and avoid daisy chaining extension cables.

• Check to make sure lights have been rated by a testing laboratory. You can see a list of federally
  recognized labs on the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s website.

• Some lights can generate a considerable amount of heat. Keep lights clear of decorations and
  other flammable materials.

• Water and electricity don’t mix. Don’t leave appliances plugged in where they might come into
  contact with water.

• Not all lights are rated for outdoor use. Indoor lights often have thinner insulation, which can
  become cracked and damaged when exposed to the elements outdoors. So make sure the ones
  you string up on the house belong out there.

• Don’t leave Christmas lights on when you go to bed at night or when you leave the house.

• Children and holiday lights can be a dangerous combination. Kids like shiny objects, but playing
  with holiday lights can be very dangerous. Never let them play with lights, electrical decorations
  or cords.

• When you pack up your lights into storage after the holidays, make sure to put them in a well-
  sealed container to prevent possible water damage and to block hungry rodents looking to turn
  the cords into lunch.

• Final advice: Be careful with ladders.

A home electrical inspection makes a great gift. Many potential electrical hazards can be identified during an inspection, allowing them to be corrected before tragedy strikes. Unlike gifts that may be quickly forgotten, your loved ones will continue to benefit from the gift of safety long after the holidays have passed.


Ranges and ovens are involved in a number of thermal burn injuries seen in U. S. hospital emergency rooms each year. Many of the victims are younger than age five. Keep little kitchen helpers in check:

• Never leave the kitchen when something’s cooking—a fire or accident can happen in an instant.

• Keep children at least three feet away from all cooking appliances.

• Never hold a child while cooking or when removing hot food from the microwave, oven or stove.

• Turn pot handles in, away from reaching hands.

• Use the back burners on the cooktop whenever possible.

• Hot tap water scalds can be prevented by lowering the setting on water heater thermostats to
  120 degrees Fahrenheit or below and by installing anti-scald devices in water faucets.

• Once your holiday meal is ready, check that the stove and oven are turned off and that other
   kitchen appliances are unplugged and out of reach.




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