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posted: 12/6/2012 12:00 PM

Safety first when it comes to holiday lights

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  • Don't put lights on aluminum trees, the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns. The lights can create a charge on the metal tree, which would electrocute someone.

      Don't put lights on aluminum trees, the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns. The lights can create a charge on the metal tree, which would electrocute someone.
    File photo

 
 

Roughly 12,500 people are treated each for injuries sustained while putting up holiday lights and decorating Christmas trees.

To help keep your holiday safe, here are some tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

• Make sure you blow out candles before you go to bed. Candles start about 11,600 fires each year, resulting in 150 deaths, 1,200 injuries and $173 million in property loss. Christmas trees are involved in about 300 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 30 injuries and an average of more than $10 million in property loss and damage.

• When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "fire resistant," which means the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

• When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness by making sure it is green, the needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The trunk should be sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

• Keep your trees away from fireplaces and radiators. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways. Keep your trees constantly watered to keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

• Use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Since CPSC started monitoring holiday lights and decorations sold at stores nationwide, inspectors have prevented the import of 116,500 units of holiday lights that did not meet safety standards.

• Check new or old lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.

• Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.

• Do not use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.

• Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

• Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).

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