Halloween Electrical Safety
As consumers and families across America prepare to celebrate Halloween with elaborate decorations, creative costumes, and candlelight displays, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) recommends following important safety tips to keep families and homes safe.
- Choose decorations, costumes, and accessories that are made with flame resistant, flame-retardant, or non-combustible materials.
- Use flashlights or battery operated candles instead of candles when decorating the home, including to light walkways, jack-o-lanterns,and outdoor displays.
- Carefully inspect each decoration before use. Cracked, frayed, or bare wires may cause a serious electric shock or start a fire.
- Before using any electrical products outside, make sure they are marked “for outdoor use.”
- Keep electric cords out of high-traffic areas, including doorways and walkways, where they can be a tripping hazard.
- Plug outdoor decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to prevent electric shock.
- Never nail or staple light strings or extension cords. This can damage the cord’s insulation and create a serious fire and shock hazard.
- Use electrical lights and decorations that are approved for safe use by an independent testing laboratory such as UL, ETLSEMKO or CSA.
- Always turn off all electrical decorations and extinguish any open flames before leaving home or going to bed.
Holiday Cooking Safety Tips
The kitchen is the heart of the home. Sadly, it’s also where two out of every five home fires start. Many home fires occur during what’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year – the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years hold a tradition of cooking, and safety should always be considered in the kitchen. As we embark on the holiday season, CAEC and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) urge you to use these simple safety tips to identify and correct potential kitchen hazards:
▪ Never leave cooking equipment unattended, and always remember to turn off burners if you have to leave the room.
▪ Supervise the little ones closely in the kitchen. Make sure children stay at least three feet away from all cooking appliances.
▪ Prevent potential fires by making sure your stove top and oven are clean and free of grease, dust and spilled food.
▪ Remember to clean the exhaust hood and duct over your stove on a regular basis.
▪ Keep the cooking area around the stove and oven clear of combustibles, such as towels, napkins and potholders.
▪ Always wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can catch fire.
▪ To protect from spills and burns, use the back burners and turn the pot handles in, away from reaching hands.
▪ Locate all appliances away from the sink.
▪ Plug countertop appliances into ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected outlets.
▪ Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces like the range or toaster.
▪ Unplug the toaster and other counter top appliances when not in use.
▪ Be sure to turn off all appliances when cooking is completed.
For more important safety tips to keep you and your family safe this holiday season and throughout the year, visit www.esfi.org.
Real Tree Safety Tips
Few traditions are as unique to the holidays as adorning our homes with brightly lit Christmas trees. Many people choose to display live trees in their homes, and while this timeless exhibit adds to the magic of the season, it may also increase the risk of holiday fires and injuries. A primary concern with a live Christmas tree is fire danger, often brought on by the combination of electrical malfunctions and a drying tree.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), there are several things to do when looking for a fresh tree. If you’re heading to a retail lot, look for one that is well lit but keeps the trees in a shaded area to prevent them from drying out. Ask the seller questions, such as when they received their trees; are they delivered once at the beginning of the season or in several shipments? If there are several varieties of trees, ask the retailer which performs best in your climate, as some species last longer and remain fresher than others in certain environments.
Once you select a potential tree, know how to do a fresh-check. The NCTA suggests that you run a branch through your enclosed hand – the needles should not come off easily. Bend the outer branches – they should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily or the needles come off without effort, the tree is too dry and could be a fire hazard. Other warning signs are excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor and wrinkled bark. A good rule of thumb is if you are unsure as to whether a tree is fresh, select another, and if all the trees on the lot don’t look fresh, find another retailer.
When you get your live tree home, make a fresh cut to remove about a half inch disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting it in the stand. Do not cut it at an angle or in a V-shape which makes the tree less sturdy and reduces the amount of water available to the tree. Taking a few minutes to do this will improve your tree’s water intake, and make it harder for your tree to catch fire. As a general rule, tree stands should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Check the stand daily to ensure the water level doesn’t go below the base of the tree. An additional safeguard is to place the tree away from sources of heat (fireplaces, space heaters, vents).
To reduce your risk of electrical malfunctions and danger when it comes to décor, use low heat lights such as LED’s or miniature bulbs and inspect the light sets (new or old) for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections before use. Be careful where you place electrical cords. Don’t run electrical cords under rugs; walking traffic can weaken the insulation and the wires can overheat, increasing the chances for fire or electrical shock. Purchase lights, electric decorations and extension cords that are UL-listed only. And always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or going to bed.
Electrical malfunctions can also ignite artificial trees and you should take the same precautions as you would with a real tree regarding tree placement and decorations.
By following these safety tips, you can keep your holidays merry and bright with the beauty of a real tree in your home.