Take Steps to Protect Your Home

Dec 6, 2012

By Staff Writer

Take steps to protect your home and family from electrical and fire hazards related to outdoor holiday decorations with these quick tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International:

  • Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations used for outdoor decorating are marked for outdoor use.
  • Match power needs (amperage) of electrical products with amperage rating of extension cords.
  • Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). If circuits are not GFCI-protected, portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold and require no special knowledge or equipment to install.
  • Inspect all lights, decorations, and extension cords for damage before using.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, the house, or other firm supports to protect them from wind damage, but take care not to attach the lights in a way that could damage the cordís insulation.
  • Keep all extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.
  • Make sure spotlights used to illuminate decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather, and a safe distance from flammable items.
  • Inspect ladders for loose or missing screws, hinges, bolts, and nuts before using.
  • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity.
  • Use the right ladder height; ensuring ladders extend at least three feet past the edge of the roof.
  • Exercise caution when decorating near power lines. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet from power lines.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Make sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows, or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cordís insulation.
  • Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cordís insulation.
  • Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.

For more holiday safety tips check out the ESFI 2012 Holiday Survival Guide.

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