Utility companies are warning homeowners about the dangers of electrical fires during the holiday season.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. Fire Departments responded to an average of 170 house fires annually sparked by Christmas trees between 2012 through 2016. These fires caused an average of four deaths, 15 injuries, and $12 million dollars in property damage each year.
Faulty electrical distribution or lighting equipment was linked to 43 percent of home Christmas tree fires.
Entergy Texas advises that residents take safety precautions when decorating this season. They suggest these best practices when decorating indoors:
- When decorating a live tree, make sure it is fresh and green, with needles that are difficult to pull from the branches.
- Place the tree in a stand with ample water; checking the level daily.
- Check the lights before stringing on the tree or in other decorations. Discard lights with any frayed wires or loose sockets. Be sure that the lights have been tested for by an independent testing laboratory.
- Make sure all sockets have bulbs in them. Children could put fingers in empty sockets.
- Never burn candles near the tree or use flammable decorations.
- Never use lights on a metallic tree.
- Do not overload extension cords, outlets or even circuits in the house.
- Turn off decorative lighting when leaving the room.
- Place wires in low-traffic locations where no one can trip. Do not place wires under rugs.
It is critical to follow these safety steps when decorating outside:
- Make sure to use lights that are designed for outdoor use.
- Use a non-conducting fiberglass or wooden ladders when stringing lights. Be sure to stay clear of all overhead wires.
- Do not replace bulbs when electricity is on.
- Never let bulbs touch flammable materials such as plastic, dry grasses and leaves.
- Use rubber gaskets in light sockets or hang sockets downward to keep water out.
- Be sure to keep connections and lights off the ground by hanging them over wooden stakes.
- Turn off outside holiday lights when away or asleep.
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