During the most wonderful time of the year, the last thing you want is a house fire caused by careless Christmas light safety or melting candles on a menorah.
That’s right — that strand of old incandescent bulbs you dig out of your basement each Christmas causes roughly 230 home fires each year, reports the National Fire Protection Association. And when it comes to candles, December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In fact, 11% of home candle fires happen in December, compared to 4% the rest of the year.
Follow these candle and Christmas light safety tips to stay safe during holiday festivities.
Oh, Christmas Tree
- Only use lights that have been tested for safety. Look for a label from a recognized testing laboratory. Pay attention to lights designated for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer instructions for the maximum number of light strands to connect.
- Never use candles to decorate a tree.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source (fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights)
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
- Add water to the tree stand to prevent needles from drying out and increasing flammability. Be sure to add water daily.
Menorah Candle Caution
- Never leave lighted candles unattended.
- Place the menorah on a flat, fire-resistant surface (aluminum foil or stoneware platter) away from drapes, curtains, and wood cabinets.
- Candles should be placed in a sturdy holder.
- Handheld candles should not be passed from one person to another at any time. When lighting candles at a candle lighting service, the person with the unlit candle should dip their candle wick into the flame of the lit candle.
- If lit candles are placed near windows, be sure they are not close to blinds or curtains that could catch fire.
- Candles placed on or near tables, altars, or shrines should be closely monitored at all times.
- If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed on a metal tray, in a sink, or in a deep basin filled with water.
LED Lights and Limited Usage
Are you still using traditional incandescent bulbs? Consider upgrading to LED holiday light strands. In fact, they consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands, reports Energy.gov. It only costs $0.27 to light a standard tree for 12 hours a day, 40 days with LEDs — compared to $10 for incandescent lights. Additionally, LED lights are less likely to burn out or break compared to incandescent bulbs.
Do you switch the Christmas lights on and go to sleep? Set timers for lights to automatically turn on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night. You’ll cut down on costs by keeping light displays on for partial hours of the evening, when your neighbors will be awake and can see them. If you are still using older incandescent bulbs, you’ll see even greater cost savings by flipping the switch.
Inspect Outlets and Smoke Detectors
Add a smoke detector and outlet test to your list — and let Mister Sparky check it twice! During an electrical inspection, we will check your smoke detectors for battery life and functionality. Even if we didn’t install or place your smoke detectors, we will ensure they are functioning correctly to keep your family safe.
Can you wiggle Christmas light plugs in your outlets? It might not seem serious, but that is the sign of a loose electrical connection. Call your local Mister Sparky electrician to replace loose connections with a snug outlet configuration.