My favorite part of this season is seeing all the buildings bedazzled with lights. It’s the perfect metaphor – banishing the darkness of winter by shedding light on our friends, family, and home. However, sometimes that light gets a little too lit. The highest number of reported house fires occur in winter, and each year over 250 of these fires are caused by Christmas trees and lights. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take (besides buying a fake tree, in which case check that the label says ‘fire-retardant’) to keep your tree and home from going up in flames:
- First and foremost, make sure you buy a fresh tree with vibrant green needles that don’t break or crunch under your touch. If you tend to buy your tree immediately after (or before) Thanksgiving, you risk the chance of your tree drying out before it’s time to open presents on Christmas Day. Routinely check your tree to make sure it’s still fresh.
- Help your tree along by providing it with plenty of water throughout the season. Keeping it hydrated will vastly reduce the chance of it catching fire.
- Don’t place your tree too close to a heat source, such as a fireplace or heater, and be sure to place lit candles far away from the branches.
- Ditch your old string of lights. New strings have fused plugs to prevent sparks in case of a short circuit.
- Before hanging your lights, check the strands for any cracked cords, frayed ends, or loose connections. If any of the bulbs are out or broken, replace them immediately with the appropriate bulb size.
- Not all lights are rated for outdoor use. Inside lights have thinner insulation and can be cracked or damaged by the elements. Be sure to check the warning and instruction tags on your lights before hanging them outside.
- Use insulated hooks to hang your lights rather than tacks, nails, or screws, which could split the light cords and become electrified.
- Plug all exterior lights into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle.
- Set your lights on a timer so you never have to worry about leaving your lights on overnight while you’re asleep. Also, never leave your lights on while you’re out of the house.
- And lastly, be sure to check that all of your fire detectors are working and have a fire extinguisher charged and ready in an easily accessible location.
Use these smart safety tips while decorating your home, and once you’re done decking out your halls, be sure to send us a picture for your chance to win at $500 Amazon Gift Card! For more details, visit out Deck Out The Halls contest page.