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‘Tis the Season for Safe Holiday Lighting

Lori Gariepy, Digital Communications Associate / 2016/11/29

A true first sign that holiday spirit is in the air is when neighbourhoods start lighting up with decorations. Whatever your favourite – multi-coloured lights, red and green, solid blue, white icicles, flashing lights, projection lights, lights synchronized to music, inflatable lawn ornaments – it’s important to keep energy efficiency in mind (ENERGY STAR® certified LED lights are best), as well as safety.

Here are some safety tips to help you and your family prevent electrical hazards and stay safe this holiday season.

Holiday Lighting Preparation:

  • Inspect holiday lights and electrical ornaments for damage. Discard anything with frayed cords, exposed wires, or cracked bulb holders.
  • Use this Holiday Shopping Checklist to replace damaged electrical products.
  • Download and print our Save on Energy coupons for indoor and outdoor timers and power bars and redeem them at a participating retailer.
  • Check for the certification mark of an accredited organization to ensure lights, extension cords, electrical decorations and spotlights comply with safety and performance standards.
  • Lights and extension cords are rated for indoor or outdoor use – look for this information on the package and do not exceed the recommended wattage.

Extension Cords, Plugs and Outlets:

  • Unplug lights before replacing a burnt out bulb.
  • Read the instructions – in most cases, only three strings of lights can be safely connected together.
  • Use a single extension cord that is long enough to reach an outlet – do not connect more than one extension cord together.
  • To prevent overheating or fire, do not plug too many decorations into one outlet; use a power bar where needed.
  • For outdoor lights, use outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to protect you from electric shock in damp and wet conditions.
  • Turn off holiday lights when you leave the house. Use indoor and outdoor timers so that you never have to worry about forgetting to turn off the lights before you go to bed.

Outdoor Electrical Safety:

  • Ensure your ladder is at least three metres away from any overhead power lines – you could be electrocuted even if you don’t touch the wire.
  • Keep outdoor connections away from metal rain gutters, off the ground and out of puddles; don’t run them across driveways or walkways.
  • Use insulated tape or plastic clips rather than metal nails or staples to secure outdoor lights in place.

Indoor Electrical Safety:

  • Light the tree only when you are at home and awake to enjoy it. Do not allow bulbs to get too hot.
  • Water your natural tree regularly, and keep extension cords and lights away from the water.
  • Watch that young children don’t put electrical decorations or cords in their mouths.
  • Keep an eye on pets that may chew or damage electrical cords.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy and your smoke detectors in good working order.
  • After the holiday season, put decorations away to prevent any damage that could lead to shock or fire.

All of these holiday electrical safety tips and more can be found on the Electrical Safety Authority website.

Enjoy all the twinkling lights and festive decorations, and have a safe and happy holiday season!

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