Holiday Safety

Put Safety First

There are many holidays and occasions throughout the year that involve installing special lighting and decorations. Here are some tips and guidelines to help keep you and your family safe from electrical hazards when buying and installing lighting and décor for special occasions.

Light Up Safely

  • 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. 
  • When you open the package, check for an approval sticker. This should appear on the cord of light strings. 

Extension Cords and Plugs

  • Don’t overload extension cords or circuits by plugging in too many decorations.
    • This can create overheating and may 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.
  • Keep outdoor connections above ground and out of puddles. Don't run them across driveways and/or walkways.

Product Safety

  • Only purchase electrical products from reputable sources and retail outlets.
  • When shopping for gifts, look at the fine details of the product information.
    • Typos may be a sign of a cheap or counterfeit product.
  • For electrical products, look for the approval mark of an accredited certification agency (it will be on the product label or in the description).
  • If your electrical item is deemed unsafe, or does not have a certification mark, do not use it and return to the seller. You can report it to the Electrical Safety Authority.

Installing Decorations

  • 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.
  • Holiday decorations aren't designed for year-round use and can deteriorate over time. Take them down when the holidays are over (your neighbours will 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.
  • Turn off holiday lights and decorations when you leave the house or go to bed.