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Tips From Your Local Electrician: How to Prevent Electrical Hazards During the Holidays

December 11, 2018

The holidays are time to enjoy great food, the company of friends & family, and of course, all of the beautiful holiday decorations.

However, many of these decorations do pose a slight electrical hazard risk, so to keep your home safe this holiday season, follow these five tips from your local electrician:


Verify Proper Ratings

You can score lights to hang on the exterior of your home or on your Christmas tree for very little money, but before you purchase them, you need to verify that they have the proper safety rating. Your lights need to be verified by the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or Intertek (ETL Semko). These are lights that have been extensively tested and have a very low risk of being a fire hazard.


Inspect All Lights

If you have been storing your lights in the attic or using the same set of lights for years, your local electrician would warn you to inspect all of them before you hang them up. First, check the cords to make sure there is no fraying, then inspect the plugs for damage, and finally the bulbs themselves. If the problem is fixable–such as a broken bulb–replace the bulb before hanging the lights. If the problem is related to the cord or plug, it is best to discard that string of lights and purchase a new one.


Use Lights as Directed

Although they may look the same, your local electrician would tell you that not all lights are created equal. Some lights are intended for only indoor use while others can be used outdoors and indoors because they can better withstand the outdoor elements. Look for the UL mark on the lights, and if it is green, you should only use those lights indoors. If the mark is red, you can feel free to use those lights indoors or outdoors.


Choose Locations Strategically

Once you have determined whether your lights go inside or outside, you need to carefully choose a location for them. For inside your home, make sure that the lights are not close to any fire hazards (space heater, candle, fireplace) or anything flammable (paper, wood). And to actually hang up the lights themselves, never use tacks, nails, or staples (unless you want to hear about it from your local electrician). Instead, use insulated holders that are designed for this purpose.


Maintain Your Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree is a quintessential holiday decoration, but it can pose some risks to your home if not properly taken care of. Your local electrician would first make sure that a real tree is not too dry (which can make it easier to catch fire), ensure that its stand can hold up to a gallon of water and that it is placed at least three feet away from any fireplaces or space heaters. Finally, water the tree every day to keep up the moisture levels.

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