Top 10 Electrical Hazards to Avoid During the Holidays

The holidays are when many people add more to their electrical use than any other time of year. Between lights, decorations, cooking appliances, and more, there is a huge increase in crowded outlets. All that extra power comes with a significant increase in risk of electrical fire.

We want you and your family to be safe this holiday season. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the most common causes of electrical shock and fires during the holidays. That way you can know what to watch out for and keep a sparkling home without any sparks.

house with holiday lights and blow-up decorations with a christmas tree visible in the front window

1.) Using Holiday Lights in the Wrong Location: Holiday lights are usually meant for either indoors or outdoors, and can be dangerous to use in the wrong spot. Indoor lights aren't always waterproof or resistant, which is risky in snowy weather. Outdoor lights can burn hotter and can light decorations on fire. Always check the box to see if your lights are a good fit.

2.) Using Uncertified Electrical Decorations: Because faulty electronics can be a serious fire risk, your decorations should be marked with a certification such as the Underwriters Association (UL). If your lights include the UL logo, then you can trust them to run without starting a fire. If not, they may come with a higher risk of failure.

worn out cord on a dirty concrete floor

3.) Using Damaged Extension Cords: According to the National Fire Prevention Association, extension cords were involved in more than 1,700 fires from 2015-2019. That’s why it’s crucial to check your extension cords for damage and to use the right cord for the job. For outdoor decorations, you’ll want to use a good indoor/outdoor extension cord. Avoid using any cord with visible wiring, melted insulation, or frayed casing.

4.) Plugging Too Many Decorations into 1 Outlet: Multiple decorations or devices plugged into a single outlet risk overloading it. That can cause excess heat to build up in the wiring behind your wall without you even noticing. It’s a good idea to space out your decorations and only use power strips that are new and in good repair.

house with lots of holiday lights

5.) Leaving Your Lights on All the Time: It’s a good idea to run your lights only when someone is home and awake to monitor them. If you leave your holiday lights on while no one is around, then no one is there to notice if something goes wrong. Never sleep with your Christmas tree lit, because everyone in the home could be in serious danger if a fire starts while everyone is asleep.

6.) Using Damaged or Worn-Out Decorations: Just like everything else, holiday decorations wear out over time or can get damaged during use. That damage can come with a significant risk to your home and family. That’s why it’s wise to replace your Christmas lights every 4-6 years and throw out any decorations with exposed wiring or other signs of damage.

too many cords plugged into one power strip

7.) Using Obsolete Lights: Most older lights use incandescent bulbs, which aren’t as efficient as modern LED bulbs. On top of needing more power for each string of lights, incandescent bulbs run hotter as they lose excess energy. That means they have a much higher chance of causing a fire if dry pine needles or paper decorations rest of the bulbs.

8.) Connecting Too Many Cords: Each time you add a string of lights to the end of another, it increases the amount of power running through them all. String too many together at once, and you risk overloading the lights. In general, you should avoid stringing more than three strands of incandescent lights together end-to-end, and more than 15 strands of LEDs.

setting up holiday lights

9.) Leaving Cords in Risky Places: It can be a nightmare finding an outlet close to where you want to decorate. Sometimes that means an extension cord can wind around a corner or across a hall where people can trip or small children or pets can get at them. It’s crucial to pay attention to where your cords end up so you can avoid dangerous situations like these.

10.) Damaging Your Lights While Setting Them Up: Many people use nails or staples to help set up their holiday lights. Never actually pierce or pinch the cord with a staple or a nail. For safety, keep the cord’s insulation intact. There are inexpensive specialty mounting options available that allow you to place your lights where you want them without causing any damage to the cords.

We hope that you and your family are safe this holiday season. If you have any questions or concerns as you are decorating this year, Any Hour Services would be happy to help. One of our licensed electricians can inspect your electrical system and holiday lights to help you know if there are any concerns. You can give us a call or book an appointment online.

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Author: Nat Stuver
Copyright © 2023 by Any Hour Services


Dec 1st 2023

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