Decorating Your Home, 3 Things Your Electrician Wished You Knew

Decorating Your Home for the Holidays, 3 Things Your Electrician Wished You Knew

Stowe christmas lights

Decorating your home for the holidays. A time-honored tradition for your family, or for some a competitive sport, in either case, there’s nothing that makes us feel jolly than a cozy, festive home on a cold winter night.

We’d never think that decorating our homes for the holidays could be a hazardous hobby. However, whether we know it or not, many of our holiday decorating habits are actually very un-safe…from choking hazards, to fire hazards to improper ladder techniques while dressing the tree.

This short video helps consumers to remember to keep safe practices in mind while decorating this holiday season.

A 2013 consumer survey by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), found that 86% of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holidays celebrations. With nearly 2/3 of the respondents using electrical lights on both the interior and exterior of their homes. Of that, a majority of decorators use one or more extension cords.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are about 210 Christmas-tree related fire incidents per year, the majority of which are electrical in nature.

#1 – Plugging your lights into old outlets

Chances are your lights will be subject to rain, ice and snow while they are keeping your home lit for the neighborhoods annual Holiday Lighting Competition. Remember how your outlets in the bathroom and kitchen (AKA Near Water Sources) are required to be GFCI outlets for safety? The National Electric Code requires new outlets in bathrooms, outdoor spaces, kitchens, and other areas near water to use GFCI outlets, but some older homes might not have the protections.The same principle should apply to your indoor lighting to keep your as guests, family and friends safe during the holiday gatherings.  If your home isn’t equipped with a GFCI where you would like to plug in your lights you can buy a GFCI adapter from a home improvement store and replace it yourself, or hire a professional.

#2 – You didn’t check your string lights

Holiday lights and other decorative lighting cause an average of 150 fires every year, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. No need to fear your string lights, as long as you take the proper precautions. “When you use electric lights, only use ones recognized for safety,” says Holtzman. Make sure your lights have the UL Listing Mark, which means third-party engineers gave it the stamp of approval for risk of fire, electric shock, and other dangers. The label can also tell you if those lights are safe to use outside. A green UL label means it can only be used indoors, but a red one is a sign that you can hang them outdoors, too.

#3 – Don’t overload your outlet

Just because you have the space to plug in another power strip or appliance doesn’t mean you should. The circuits in your home are only designed to handle so much. So try to avoid multiple extension cords or extensions on one circuit. It is worth double checking to make sure you are using heavy-duty cords if they are running outdoors, or through high traffic or wet areas.


By taking the proper precautions both inside and outside of your home, you can prevent hazards and focus on friends and family during the holidays. Don’t forget to periodically check lights and decorations throughout the season to ensure they continue to operate safely!


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