Avoid a Holiday Decorating Disaster

            Few traditions are as unique to the
holidays as festooning our homes and yards with twinkling lights and festive
decorations. While these displays add to the magic of the season, they also
increase our risks for holiday fires and injuries. So follow these steps to
ensure that your traditions result in a safe, bright, and happy time for your

            Carefully inspect each electrical
decoration and extension cord before use, and discard any damaged items.
Cracked sockets, bare or frayed wires, and loose connections may cause a
serious shock or fire. Avoid overloading outlets, which can overheat and also
cause a fire.

 The Electrical Safety
Foundation International recommends never connecting more than three strands of
incandescent lights together. Do not pinch cords in windows or doors, or under
heavy furniture. 

            When decorating outside, make sure
outdoor outlets are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Check
that all items and extension cords are marked for outdoor use. And exercise
extreme caution when decorating near overhead power lines. Use a wooden or
fiberglass ladder instead of metal. Keep yourself and all of your equipment at
least 10 feet from power lines. 

            Take special care with Christmas
trees. If purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. Heated rooms dry out
live trees—even fresh ones—rapidly. Place the tree at least 3 feet away from
all heat sources, including fireplaces and space heaters. Be sure to keep the
stand filled with water. For artificial trees, look for the label “fire

Decorate your tree, live or artificial, with non-combustible
or flame-resistant materials. Never use burning candles on or near your tree.

your house is the most festive on the block or you prefer a more low-key style,
make safety an important part of your holiday preparations.


Electrical Safety Foundation International