The holiday season has arrived, and the time for decorating is in full swing. Most of us trim the tree, hang the lights and hook up our air-filled, oversized Santa, Rudolph and whatever else we have in our arsenal of decorations. Here is the problem -- we forget that our old friend electricity powers most -- if not all -- of our holiday decorations. What we fail to realize is most outlets are generally 15-20 amps, so overloading them is easy.

Overloaded outlets increase the potential for shock or electrocution, so here are some helpful hints to keep you safe this holiday season:
• Inspect all electrical decorations for defect or damage; the smallest fray in an electrical cord can have devastating consequences.
• Ensure all bulbs used for lighting decorations are operational and in place. The empty slot in a string of lights exposes users to the potential of electrical shock.
• Daisy chaining (plugging multiple electrical sources in sequence) can cause electrical connections to overheat, resulting in a fire. Following the manufacturer's recommendation is the best course of action to alleviate the potential for overload.

One golden rule I live by is to use heavy-duty extension cords designed to carry the intended load. I never use those light-duty cords -- you know, the little flat ones sold for as little as $1.29 at hardware stores. These cords can heat up quickly when they're overloaded and are not good for home decorating.
So, go forth this holiday season and enjoy it without the worries of an electrical fire. Remember, electricity is dangerous and demands respect, so give it the recognition it deserves.


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Did You Know?

Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 mission in direct property damage. For more information on winter and holiday safety, visit the NFPA website at http://www.nfpa.org/. Protect you and your loved ones this holiday season.

Page last updated Fri November 30th, 2012 at 11:12