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Christmas Decoration and Tree Lights Safety Tips

Christmas Decoration and Tree Lights Safety Tips

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Christmas Decoration and Tree Lights Safety Tips

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  1. Christmas Decoration and Tree Lights Safety Tips Eduardo F. Garcia Director of Facilities & Maintenance November 19, 2013

  2. Facts • Christmas is a time when SWISD staff place lighted decorations in their schools or offices. These beautiful decorations also can be dangerous. Christmas tree lights are the cause of many accidental fires during the holiday season. But there are steps you can take to ensure everyone stays safe during the holiday season. • According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 400 people lose their lives each year due to holiday fires. Let’s do our part to keep everyone safe this year by adhering to some basic Christmas lights safety tips.

  3. Initial Precautions • Before you choose which light goes where, ensure that every strand is safe. If you plan to purchase a new set, make sure it has been tested for safety. The packaging should display a label of some independent testing lab. • Also use the proper strand in the proper location: some lights can be used for indoors only, some can only be used for outdoors only, and others can be used for both. Check all strands (new and old) for frayed wires, bare wires, loose connections, cracked sockets and broken bulbs. • Plug in each set for about 10 to 15 minutes and place them on a fire-resistant surface to make sure the lights don't melt or smoke. • Finally, turn off electrical power when replacing bulbs or putting up outdoor lighting and fasten lights securely to your trees, walls, or house to protect them from wind damage.

  4. Electrical Cords • According to the Texas Department of Insurance, no more than three standard-sized light sets should be used per one extension cord. This should amount to a maximum of 200 miniature lights or 150 bigger lights. • Additionally, only one extension cord should be used in one outlet. • When using outside lights at home, only use three-pronged extension cords that are approved for outdoor use. • For inside lights, place electrical cords in places where wire insulation won't wear down or be pinched. • They shouldn't be placed under rugs, behind or beneath furniture. They should also be kept away from animals and the Christmas tree's water supply.

  5. Check Lights Before Hanging • Before hanging Christmas tree lights, make sure to inspect the entirety of each strand, even if it is brand new. • Look for loose bulbs, frayed lines and cracked sockets. • Also make sure the Christmas lights that you have purchased were meant for indoor usage. • If the lights do not have any indication that they have been tested in a laboratory for safety, don't use them.

  6. Human Error • Many people are guilty of using too many Christmas tree light sets on a single extension cord. You never want to have more than three sets of lights plugged into one another. Otherwise, you will overload your outlet, which could cause a fire. • When at home, be sure to keep the Christmas tree lights away from heat sources, such as heating vents or fireplaces. These heat sources could overheat the lights, causing them to malfunction and possibly catch on fire. It also a good idea to never use electric Christmas tree lights on a metallic tree, as the tree can become charged from faulty lights. This means that people could get shocked if they touch the tree.

  7. Keep a Watchful Eye • When at home, even though it may seem nice to display your Christmas tree to all of your neighbors all night long, this is an unsafe practice. It is generally when Christmas tree lights are left unsupervised that a house can burn down. • Never leave your Christmas tree lights on all night or while you are away from home or school. • If they spark or overheat and begin to smoke, there is no one at home or school that will be able to put out the fire or call for help before it consumes the entire home.

  8. Keep a Watchful Eye (continued) • Also make sure to keep all fluids away from the tree, with the exception of the water at the base for live trees. • When using live trees at home, it also is important to make sure that there is enough water in the tree stand base to prevent the tree from drying out. A dried-out tree with lights on it can quickly cause a fire. Never carry drinks near the tree, as a splash of liquid could cause a problem with the lights. • Keep your pets away from the tree, in order to prevent them from chewing on the light cords. Check the cords daily for any possible damage your pets may have caused when you weren't looking.

  9. Keep a Watchful Eye (continued) • If you plan to use a metallic tree, never use electric lights. No matter what tree you use, only hang colored spotlights above or beside a tree to avoid getting an electric shock from a tree that has been electrically charged by faulty lights. • Also, never let any light bulbs touch combustible materials such as pine leaves or needles, plastics and grass. Finally, never leave lights unattended. Turn off all Christmas lights (and all other plugged in decorations) before you leave for the day especially during the Thanksgiving or Christmas break.

  10. Candles • Please do not use lit candles in our Facilities! • At home, put them in stable holders in a safe location where they are not in contact with combustible materials. • Also, never leave candles unattended. • Additionally, never decorate your tree with lit candles and in general, stay away from the tree with any open flame--matches, candles, or lighters.

  11. Other Electronic Decorations • Other electrically powered decorations, such as nativity scenes, inflated cartoon characters and electric trains should be monitored just as closely as any decorative lights. They could also short out and cause a fire!