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Is your house on fire, Clark?

Tips for Maintaining Electrical Safety This Holiday Season

In my house, Christmas is synonymous with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In fact, I can’t decorate my home without thinking about Clark’s over the top light display. I can even hear Aunt Bethany’s voice as she asks Clark if the house is on fire! As much as I love every ridiculous moment of this movie, it is an obvious reminder of the dangers present when electrical safety isn’t a main priority during the holidays or really any time of the year for that matter.
We’ve all seen an overloaded outlet, maybe not quite as extreme as The Griswold’s garage abomination, but even slightly overloaded outlets have their risks.

How to Stay Safe While Decorating This Season

When plugging in holiday lights pay attention to the strand’s wattage, find out what the maximum wattage allowance is for your outlet. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and stick to two or three strands. Also, read the package your lights came in, it will let you know how many strands can be strung together. Don’t exceed the recommendation on the package.

Consider using power strips, power strips have built-in circuit breakers that add an additional layer of protection. Be careful when using extension cords, especially outdoors, be sure your cords stay dry and aren’t run underneath carpeting. Also, consider pairing your extension cord with a power strip.

Use newer lights, old light strands may not be as safe. Opt for LED lights when your budget allows, they don’t run as hot, so they present fewer fire risks and provide some savings on your power bill! When purchasing lights make sure to note whether they are indoor or outdoor lights. They may look similar, but they are not the same. Indoor lights aren’t properly sealed for the moisture they encounter outdoors.

Lastly, inspect your lights, if you see a damaged cord, replace it right away, don’t plug it in! This goes for any cord in your home as well.

Electrical Safety Tips for the Rest of the Year

There are other ways to improve electrical safety in our homes beyond the Christmas season.

Appliance safety is a big part of electrical safety and honestly one I don’t often think about! Make sure when you buy a new appliance you read the manufacturer’s instructions before plugging it in. I typically file those little books away without a second thought, but doing so could cause a major electrical issue. These booklets will provide important information like the recommended grounding method and what electrical items to avoid, such as adapters or extension cords. Only plug one high wattage appliance, coffee-maker, toaster, or any other appliance that produces heat in an outlet at a time.

Consider installing GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets if you don’t already have them. These outlets help reduce shock hazards, especially in areas where water may come in contact with your electrical equipment. Your electrician can also install AFCI (arc-fault circuit interrupter) outlets in your home to reduce fire risks, these outlets protect against wiring issues like sparking.

Now, that your home is a little safer this holiday season, you can concentrate on more important things, like eating sugar cookies and watching your favorite holiday movies!