Put safety first on your list over the holidays
Stay safe when buying and installing holiday lighting and decorations! The Electrical Safety Authority offers guidelines to help keep you and your family safe from electrical hazards:
Light up safely over the holidays:
- Choose the right light for the job. Light strings and other decorations are rated for indoor or outdoor use. Read the package instructions, and never exceed the recommended wattage;
- Replace damaged electrical products (cords, plugs, ornaments);
- Avoid plugging too many lights and decorations into an outlet. Overloaded circuits can overheat and start a fire;
- Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) when plugging in outdoors;
- Buy decorations with the mark of an accredited certification agency on the package; and
- When you open the package, check for an approval sticker. This should appear on the cord of light strings.
- Avoid overloading circuits with plugs and extension cords. This can create overheating and result in a fire. Fuses that frequently blow and circuits that trip might mean you have connected too many items to the circuit;
- Never remove the third prong on plugs. This "grounding pin" prevents shock in case of electrical equipment failure;
- Plug outdoor electrical decorations into Ground Fault (GFCI)-protected outlets;
- Don't run extension cords under carpets, through doorways, or in places where furniture might damage them; and
- Keep outdoor connections above-ground and out of puddles. Don't run them across driveways and/or walkways.
- Usually, you can safely connect no more than three light strings. Read manufacturers' instructions for directions;
- Make sure bulbs don't touch supply cords, wires, cloth, paper, or any material that's not part of the light string;
- Use the proper clips for securing lights and decorations. Staples and nails can damage electrical cords;
- Check for overhead power lines before using a ladder to put up decorations, or when hanging lights or decorations on trees; and
- Holiday decorations aren't designed for year-round use and can deterioriate over time. Take them down when the holidays are over (your neighbours will also thank you!).
For general safety:
- Don't let children put electrical decorations or cords in their mouths;
- Keep an eye on pets that may chew or damage electrical cords; and
- Turn off holiday lights and decorations when you leave the house or go to bed.