Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Safety with Electric Christmas Decorations

Nathan Cabello - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - In preparation for the Christmas holidays – which have actually already started – many homes across the country are resurrecting ornaments, including those that run on electricity. Twinkle lights, motorized Santas and animated Nativity Scenes are retrieved from the basement or the garage and dusted off for yet another ‘performance’. It’s their time to shine once again.

While everyone is getting excited how the house Christmas decoration will turn out to be – better than the previous years, for sure – it is very important to bear in mind that many of everyone’s favorite decorations carry the risk of fire or electrical injury if not used carefully.

It pays to remember that accidents are both possible and preventable, even during the holidays.  Electrical sparks can result from overused, overheating electric decors, and costly accidents can ensue. But such disasters can be avoided by, first and foremost, setting up everything properly.

The following tips based on ideas put forth by www.cableorganizer.com will help ensure that the holiday cheers don’t turn into holiday distress:

 Lights and Decorations

¦ Use only lights, electric decorations and extension cords with authentic ‘PS’ marks.

¦ If decorating outdoors, make sure to use lights and decorations that are rated for outdoor use. Putting indoor-only products outside during the wet days of December can result in electric shock and fire hazards.

¦ If in doubt as to whether light strings are rated for indoor or outdoor use, check the specifications on the product’s package. See if there are holographic PS marks: green means “indoors only, please,” while a red indicates that the product is safe for both indoor and outdoor use.

¦ Whether they’re brand-new out of the box or remnants from holidays past, before putting them up, inspect all lights, electric decorations and extension cords for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs, and bulbs. If the damage can be repaired (example: broken bulbs may be replaced), do not use the item until the repair has been made. If cords and plugs are damaged, discard and replace the decoration.

¦ Always unplug lights before changing bulbs, replacing fuses, or making any other repairs.

¦ If you need to replace a bulb in a string of Christmas lights, make sure that the wattage rating of the replacement bulb you’re using matches that of the light strand. Using a bulb with too high a wattage can cause the light string to overheat, creating a fire risk.

¦ When hanging Christmas lights outdoors, risk of electric shock may be reduced by passing up metal ladders in favor of ladders made of non-conductive materials like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

¦ Use lights and decorations strictly in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.

¦ Before beginning to decorate, verify how many strands of lights it is safe to connect end-to-end – as a general rule, it’s three.

¦ Be careful not to overload extension cords. Before plugging in, find out the wattage rating of your extension cord, as well as the power requirements of any lights or decorations to be plugged into it. A wattage rating is the amount of electricity that an extension cord is built to carry, and if the combined power requirements (or “pull”) of the lights and decorations exceed that rating, overheating and fire can occur.

¦ Every so often, check Christmas light wires to make sure that they’re not warm to the touch.

¦ Always turn off all Christmas lights and electric decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.

Christmas Tree

¦ If opting for an artificial tree, which is a more preferable option to cutting a real tree, be sure that it’s flame retardant.

¦ How long the tree will last, or how many times it can be recycled – and how safe it will be to have in the home – depends on the way it is set up or cared for. So handle the tree properly for it to remain beautiful and safe to use for a long time.

¦ Position the tree at least 3 feet away from any flaming or heating devices, to minimize any possibility of accident.

¦ Nearly half of all Christmas tree fires involve electrical malfunctions, so it’s extremely important to ensure that light strands and other electrical decorations are in good condition (free from insulation cracks, fraying wires or damaged bulbs and plugs) before putting these on the tree. (FREEMAN)

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