There are a variety of ways to brighten up your season with holiday lighting arrangements. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association holiday lights and other decorative lighting with line voltage are estimated to cause 160 home fires each year averaging nine civilian deaths, 13 civilian injuries, and $9 million in direct property damage. Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in two-thirds of those fires. In addition, 12% of home fires caused by candles occur in December; 1.5 times the monthly average.
When planning and implementing your lighting design, keep these holiday lighting safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of property damage, injury or death.
- Unlike incandescent bulbs which generate most of their energy in heat, LEDs are cool to the touch—which also indicates greater energy-efficiency.
- LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass and are much more durable.
- When hanging lights outdoors, use a wooden or fiberglass ladder.
- Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together.
- Carefully inspect each electrical decoration. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.
- Follow the manufacturer’s use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations.
- 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 cord’s insulation.
- Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s 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.
- Never drape anything over a light bulb or lamp shade.
- Avoid using candles when possible. Consider using battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles.
- Never leave an open flame unattended. Keep burning candles within sight.
- Extinguish all candles before you leave the room or go to bed.
- Place lighted candles away from combustible material and areas where they might be knocked over.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
- Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper. Do not burn wrapping paper as a means of disposal.
Follow these basic safety guidelines to help prevent electrical and fire hazards related to the use of Christmas trees.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.
- Cut 1-2 inches from the base of the trunk immediately before placing the tree in the stand and filling with water to ensure water absorption.
- Because heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water by refilling daily.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” This label indicates that the tree is more resistant to burning.
- Don’t use electrical ornaments or light strings on artificial trees with metallic leaves or branch coverings.
- Place your tree at least 3 feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters.
- When trimming a tree, only use non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.