Make sure your holiday is a safe one by following these simple tips:
- A quick check of electric lights and decorations before installation can provide peace of mind and safety. A few minutes spent checking cords and plugs for potential hazards reduces the possibility of a fire. Lights should be thrown away if they have frayed wires, damaged sockets or cracked or missing insulation.
- Check for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label before stringing lights and setting up other decorations. This label indicates the product has been tested by UL engineers for foreseeable safety hazards such as fire and electric shock.
- Check the color of the UL label. Indoor-use only light strings are marked with the UL's green holographic label; light strings for indoor and outdoor use have the UL's red holographic label.
- With so many different types of electrical holiday decorations currently on the market, it's important to read the safety, use and care instructions provided with each holiday lighting package and store these instructions with the decorations for reference the following year.
- When hanging lights around your roofline or in trees, be sure to survey the area for overhead power lines and maintain at least a 10-foot distance.
- Use only outdoor extension cords with molded plugs and sockets.
- Keep all electrical connections off the ground and hang sockets downward to prevent water from seeping into them.
- Don't run electrical cords through door or window openings where they can be damaged.
- For added protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- Don't overload electrical circuits or use more than three sets of standard lights on each extension cord.
- Unplug light sets before inserting new bulbs or changing fuses.
- Keep lights off carpeting, furniture and drapes.
- Turn off decorative lights before you go to bed or leave home.
- Make sure household smoke detectors are working properly.
Most holiday lights cost from less than one cent to 7.5 cents per string to operate for six hours, depending on the wattage. For lights that blink on and off, the cost is halved. New LED lights operate even more cheaply.