The song tells us Christmas is “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” but it can also be a surprisingly dangerous time of year. Fire hazards and electrical problems are both very common problems during the holidays. We’re not just talking about the candles or the fireplace, either. All those holiday decorations can put your electrical system under a lot of strain.
Holiday decorations can often pose a serious fire or electrocution hazard if they’re not installed and maintained correctly. You can do a few things to avoid holiday-related electrical problems this season. Start by simply following this list, and have a safe and happy holiday!
Replace Damaged Lights
Check your lights for fraying, exposed wires, or missing lights. That kind of damage can cause serious electrical issues and even start fires. Incandescent lights are especially prone to damage.
Upgrade Your Decorations
If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, switch to LED bulbs. They use less electricity, last longer, look brighter, and don’t get as hot.
Use Several Circuits
Don’t plug more than two or three light strings into one outlet. Instead, spread the light strings among several different circuits. This will reduce the chance of a tripping a circuit breaker or blowing a fuse.
Be Careful Where You Hang Your Lights
Don’t place your lights near fireplaces, mantles, or heating units. Heat can melt wiring insulation and expose wires. Exposed wires are dangerous, as they could shock you or spark and start electrical fires.
Keep Your Tree Hydrated
When you put incandescent lights (they get hot) on a dry tree, things could get… combustible. Watering your tree helps, but you should also make sure your lights aren’t damaged. You should also switch to cooler LED lights, which will really help you avoid fire hazards.
Place That Tree So It’s Safe
Don’t set up your tree so it touches outlets or plugs or if it’s near the fireplace where a “popping” ember can send a fireball of death through the air to ignite that flammable tree.
Childproof Your Plugs
Even if you don’t have kids, if kids are coming over for the holidays you should make sure your house is safe. Childproof plastic plugs aren’t very effective, so you might want to install tamper-proof outlets. Even if kids don’t visit very often, these special outlets really do make your home safer. There’s a whole blog on this, check it out.
Check Your Breaker Boxes
If old connectors are overloaded with electricity, they could start fires. If your home is over 50 years old and you’ve never updated the wiring, it’s a major fire hazards. We use a lot more electricity today than we did 50 years ago. If your electrical system can’t handle the demand, call Early Bird and ask how to rewire your home.
Recognize Electrical Fires
If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, don’t keep resetting it. It may overheat and cause a fire.
If there’s a burnt smell and you don’t know where it’s coming from, it may be a short circuit. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says short circuits are the number one cause of electrical fires.
If your outlets and switches are brown or discolored, it could be a sign of trouble.
As always, be safe and consult an electrician to make sure your home is safe for the holidays.
Problems with lights and electricity aren’t the only danger you might face during the holidays. Fires can also happen if you’re not careful when baking, cooking, or using candles or a fireplace. Here are some tips for avoiding every day fire hazards during the holiday season:
When Cooking And Baking…
- Make sure smoke detectors are working.
- Don’t leave food in the oven or on the stovetop unattended.
- Don’t leave ovens and stoves unattended for more than a few minutes at a time. A fire can escalate very quickly and without much warning. It could be burning for a long time before you even smell smoke.
- Clean the oven before you preheat it. If there are leftover food particles in the oven, they could burn and start on fire.
- If you’re deep frying a turkey, do it outside. Place the deep fryer on a flat, level surface that’s at least 10 feet from your house.
- If you do get a kitchen fire, don’t throw water on it. That will only make the burning oil splash and spread the fire.
- When there’s a fire, turn off the stove, microwave or oven. The best way to kill a fire is to suffocate it.
- If something’s burning in the oven, close the oven door. If there’s a fire on the stovetop, cover it with a lid.
- If that doesn’t work, grab the fire extinguisher. Always activate the extinguisher from a safe distance.
- If you don’t have one, get one. If you have an old one, regularly make sure it has not expired.
- If the fire spreads, get everyone out of the house and call 911.
When using a fireplace…
- Clean your chimney walls before using it. Soot hardens and can prevent proper ventilation. It’s also flammable.
- Make sure you have a screen placed in front of the fireplace. It prevents flying embers and keeps the kids and pets away from the fire.
- Don’t leave pets and children unattended near a fire.
- Don’t burn paper or scraps. Only use seasoned wood.
- Make sure the embers have cooled for at least 24 hours before throwing them away.
When using candles…
- Always leave enough space between a candle and anything that can burn.
- Think about getting flameless LED candles. They’re much safer.
- Never leave a burning candle for more than couple of minutes. Blow them out before leaving a room.
- Never use real candles as ornaments on trees, wreaths and other decorations.
Most of this is just common sense. Just be aware that electricity and things like candles, fireplaces, ovens and stovetops can cause fires. Keep that in mind and you can make this The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.
Have a great holiday! Remember: if you ever have questions or need help with an electrical problem, Early Bird is always available. We’re always proud to help make sure you have a happy (and safe!) holiday season.