|SAFETY & ENERGY|
Each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,500 people for
injuries, such as falls, cuts and shocks, related to holiday lights,
decorations and Christmas trees. Christmas trees are involved in
about 300 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 30 injuries and an
average of more than $10 million in property loss and damage.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission
suggests following these tips to make your holiday a safe one:
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the
label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the
tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist
burning and should extinguish quickly.
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness.
A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and
do not break when bent between your fingers. The trunk butt of a
fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the
tree should not lose many needles.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it at least
three feet away from fireplaces and radiators. Heated rooms dry
live trees out rapidly, so be sure to keep the stand filled with
water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block
doorways with the tree.
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have
been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which
indicates conformance with safety standards. Use only lights that
have fused plugs.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken
or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections,
and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs
promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights
per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for
the intended use.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The
tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a
person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be
sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
- Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from
utility poles into older homes.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house
walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind
damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place,
not nails or tacks, or run strings of lights through hooks made
for that purpose.
- Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or
leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Use caution when removing outdoor holiday lights.
Never pull or tug on lights as they could unravel and inadvertently
wrap around power lines.
- Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be
plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit
interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor
GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs
can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant
materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles
of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous
if ingested by children.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near
other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place
candles where they will not be knocked down.
- In homes with small children, take special care
to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings
with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid
the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid
trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child
to eat them.
Other Safety Articles
Choptank Electric Cooperative, Inc., P.O. Box 430, Denton MD 21629
Toll Free: 877-892-0001