Texans across the state are getting ready to start decorating for the approaching holiday season. Candles, lights and decorations can make the holiday season more festive and bright, but they also bring the risk of home fires, electrical shock and even death if simple safety precautions are not followed. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 1,000 home structure fires begin with holiday decorations each year.
Before you hang holiday decorations, consider these safety tips from Oncor:
- Check light strands, extension cords and any electrical cords for fraying, cracks or cuts, and throw away those with damage. Using them poses an electrical shock and fire hazard. Consider replacing damaged lights with LED lights that use less energy.
- Check the tags on your lights and extension cords for indoor or outdoor ratings and make sure they have been tested by a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories. Outdoor fixtures should be rated as "water resistant/UL approved for outdoor use."
- Avoid overloading electric outlets with too many lights and decorations plugged into one outlet. A good rule is to plug no more than three strands of lights together, but check the directions on your lights for proper use. Never plug extension cords into each other. It is best to use a longer extension cord if your cord is too short.
- Make sure all electrical cords are long enough so they aren't tight and run them along baseboards to avoid a tripping hazard. When outside, keep extension cords off sidewalks, driveways and other pathways.
- If decorating with a live tree, make sure it is fresh when you purchase it and keep it well watered to help prevent drying. If you use an artificial tree make sure it is fire resistant. Never use electric lights on a metal tree and do not use candles on any tree.
- Put out candles when you leave a room and unplug all holiday lights when going to sleep or leaving home. This saves energy and keeps your family and home safe from accidental fires. Use a light timer so you don’t forget.
- Do not decorate utility poles, transformers or meters and ensure your decorations don't block any means of access to utility equipment. Make sure your street address numbers are not hidden by decorations.
- Keep dry leaves swept away from outdoor lighting, outlets and power cords to avoid a fire hazard.
- Always have someone “spot” you when using ladders to hang lights and decorations and check for overhead power lines when walking with or standing on ladders. You should remain at least 10 feet away from power lines at all times.
- Save time and power by plugging decorations into a power strip. Then you only have to unplug or turn off the strip instead of unplugging multiple items.