Preventing fire and electrical hazards during the holidays
It's that time of year again. The Christmas spirit is in the air and no doubt many people have begun preparing for the big day. These preparations usually include extravagant lights and decorations both indoors and outside the home.
While these decorations look beautiful and add to the "Christmas mood", they could also pose a serious hazard if you are not careful. If not installed correctly, Christmas lights can cause devastating fires or physical injury through electrocution. However, there are steps you can take to minimize these risks and ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
When it comes to lights and other electric decorations, be sure to purchase only those that are "UL-listed".
“UL” is short for Underwriters Laboratories, an organization which has been testing and approving products for consumer safety since 1894. Underwriters Laboratories performs safety testing on 18,750 categories of electrical, mechanical and chemical products. Underwrites Laboratories is not affiliated with the companies that make these products so consumers can be assured that their seal of approval is genuine and a true indication of the safety of an item.
You must also ensure that you read the labels on your products carefully to determine if it is suitable for use indoors or outdoors. This is crucial as indoor decorative lights will not be able to withstand direct exposure to rain and other elements. Using them outdoors can result in electric shock and fire hazards. Indoor lights will carry a green UL mark while lights that are suitable for outdoors will carry a red UL mark.
All lights should however be manually inspected before installed regardless of whether they are brand new or being reused from previous years. They should be inspected for signs of damage like exposed wires and broken bulbs. Do not install any decorations that are damaged. Broken bulbs on a string of lights may be easily replaced, however make sure that the wattage of the replacement bulb is the same as the string of lights you are using. Remember to unplug your lights before changing bulbs or making any other repairs. if your lights or other el