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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