The holidays are here again, and it's easy to get caught up in the rush of celebrations and activities. It's also easy to forget to put safety on your list of things to remember. At Stoughton Utilities, where safety is a top priority, we want to make sure you and your loved ones enjoy this wonderful season as safely as possible.
When decorating your home, remember these tips to follow inside and outside to ensure your holidays are both safe and beautiful...
It is important to turn off all electrical light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
Always check last year's leftover lights for cracked or broken sockets, frayed insulation or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw away damaged cords. The few dollars saved repairing an old light string isn't worth the chance of an electrical accident.
For both inside and outside lighting projects, follow the rule of using no more than three sets of lights on a single extension cord to prevent overheating and reduce the chance of fire.
Before using any light strings, animated displays or other electrical products outdoors, make sure the product is approved by a nationally recognized certification organization and marked 'for outdoor use.'
Follow the use and care instructions that accompany your electrical decorations.
Use an outdoor-rated light timer with your outdoor holiday lights to automatically turn them on when it gets dark, and turn them off while everyone is asleep. This not only helps keep you safe by ensuring your lights don't heat up due to prolonged use, but it also saves you money by extending the lifespan of the lights and reducing your electrical consumption. Plus, you'll never again have to go outside in the cold to get to the plug!
Before you buy lights for use outside, read the packaging or the tag on the cord to make sure they're approved for outdoor use. Never use indoor lighting outside.
If your outdoor decorating requires a ladder, always look up first before raising it. Don't raise ladders or other extended objects into or near power lines. Be careful not to place yourself or something you're using in a position where you might contact a power line.
Planning to string lights in outdoor trees? Make sure tree limbs haven't grown into or near electric lines. Branches and even entire trees can become energized if they contact the line.
Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
Don't overload extension cords or allow them to run through water or snow on the ground.
Don't staple or nail through light strings or electrical/extension cords-you could damage the wire or insulation, which could lead to an electrical shock or fire.
Use a light timer with your indoor holiday lights to automatically turn them on in the evening, and turn them off while everyone is asleep. This not only helps keep you safe by making sure the lights don't heat up due to prolonged use, but it also saves you money by extending the lifespan of the lights and reducing your electrical consumption. Also, you'll never again have to get on your knees to reach behind the tree for the plug!
Check all tree lights-even if you've just purchased them-before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
Inside your home route cords so they won't trip anyone. Additionally, don't place them under rugs, appliances or other objects, as they may overheat if covered or become worn and cause a fire.
Pets and toddlers sometimes become attracted to electrical cords. It's a good idea to secure cords so that they are not easily reached.
Don't use electrical ornaments or light strings on artificial trees with metallic leaves or branch coverings. This could create an electrical shock.
Whether artificial or freshly cut, a tree should be kept a safe distance away from all sources of heat, including fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Also, make sure the tree doesn't block any room or home exits.
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label 'Fire Resistant.'
When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
Stoughton Utilities wishes you and your family a healthy, happy and safe holiday season!