12 electrical safety tips for the holidays

Holiday lights are so festive, both inside and outside your home, that they can truly add to the joyful atmosphere of the holiday season. In the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas, here are 12 electrical safety tips for the holidays to ensure your electrical lighting decorations don’t cause a fire.

Choose the right holiday lighting for the job

Only use outdoor lights for outdoors, and indoor lights for indoors, no matter how tempting it might seem to switch them. It’s not a good idea to exceed the wattage allowed inside your home which could blow a fuse, nor use indoor lights outside that aren’t designed for wet weather such as rain and snow.

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Check lighting decorations before hanging them

Make sure your holiday lighting decorations have a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification label and that they work before hanging them. Cords should not be frayed, and bulbs and sockets should not be cracked. These problems could otherwise cause a spark that starts a fire. If you’re using a ladder, wear a helmet and goggles, and have a spotter keep the ladder steady.

Use ground fault circuit (GFCI) outlets

Plug your holiday lighting into ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) outlets so if there is a short, the GFCI will turn the light off automatically.

Use LED lighting

LED lights last longer, use up to 90 per cent less energy, and are cooler in temperature than incandescent bulbs so they won’t ignite any paper or fabric that it touches.

Respect third prong on electrical cords

Never remove the third prong of a plug as this is a grounding pin that prevents a shock.

Don’t overload electrical outlets

Avoid creating an electrical octopus of too many electrical cords in one plug. If you must have more than two cords in that area, use a special power bar that’s designed to handle multiple cords. Choose one that will shut off automatically if there’s a short. Also make sure plugs are fully inserted because poor contact can cause overheating.

Hang strings of holiday lights carefully

Don’t connect more than three lighting strings together or it could blow a fuse. When hanging outdoor lights use plastic hooks and not metal staples or nails. Place lights carefully without pulling them and causing a tear.

Use battery-operated lighting decorations

Whenever there’s an option to use battery-operated lighting decorations, consider it. Battery-operated candles are especially popular since they reduce the likelihood of a candle fire.

Protect electrical cords

Ensure that electrical cords are not pinched by furniture, forced into wall or floor cracks, or placed underneath carpet, to avoid a short that could spark a fire. Make sure they’re also not a tripping hazard, nor a pet-chewing temptation.

Keep bulbs away from combustibles

Bulbs (particularly incandescent bulbs that get warm) should not touch paper or fabric decorations, wrapped presents or furnishings that might burn or start a fire.

Give breakers special attention

A breaker that keeps tripping is a sign of an electrical problem. It may be overloaded or wearing out and needs a new fuse. If the problem persists, book a HeyBryan electrician to do an inspection.

Say goodnight to your holiday electrical lighting

Put your holiday lighting on timers so they shut off automatically or turn them off yourself when you go to bed at night. 

Remember, you can easily book a trusted HeyBryan Expert who specializes in electrical services, or a handyman, to hang holiday electrical lights or help with any number of small home maintenance tasks. Each Expert has been vetted, background checked, and approved by the HeyBryan team so you can feel comfortable having an Expert in or around your home to complete your task safely and efficiently.

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