As families decorate for the holidays, Southern California Edison (SCE) urges its customers to ensure the experience is joyous by always being aware of power lines when adorning outdoors. They also are encouraged to avoid shock and fire hazards such as frayed electrical cords and overloaded outlets. With people decorating their homes for the holidays, it is imperative to practice electrical safety, such as not throwing light strands or electrical cords into trees near power lines or on utility poles, not using decorative lighting with broken fuses or lightbulbs and keeping electrical connections away from moisture. “The joy that festive decorations bring can lead people to overlook their potential dangers,” said Bill Messner, principal manager of Health and Safety at SCE. “It is vital that families follow instructions, inspect decorations and practice safety to minimize the risk of electric shock, fires or injuries.” U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 230 home fires annually that start with Christmas trees, resulting in an average of six deaths, 22 injuries and $18.3 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. About 5,800 people annually also are treated in hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations, with more than half of them coming from ladders or roofs while decorating outdoors, the fire association said. SCE recommends some other safety tips for the holidays:
- Never place lights closer than 10 feet to power lines and always be aware of power lines.
- Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity.
- Always inspect your ladder before using it to ensure that it is safe. If the ladder is damaged, buy a new one that is safe to use.
- Be sure electrical cords are not placed at an angle or position that pinches them, like in windows.
- Use plastic zip cords when hanging lights instead of staples, tacks or nails.
- Use no more than three strands of light per extension cord. Overloads can cause fires or lines to short circuit.
- Keep lights directly away from carpeting, furniture, drapes and other flammable materials.
- Use only decorations bearing the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Intertek (ETL) labels.
- Always unplug decorative lights when leaving home or before going to bed.