’Tis the season for twinkling lights.
Soon there will be Christmas trees and homes to decorate, gifts to be purchased and gatherings with friends and family. But there’s several things to keep in mind around the house so your holiday season goes off without a hitch. We’ve gathered the following tips to help you minimize any risks.
Holiday lighting checklist
- Before buying or using your lights, make sure they are CSA approved. Check the Healthy Canadians Recall and Safety Alerts Database before buying or using the lights so you can find out about the latest recalls.
- When possible, use LED Christmas lights, which have a much lower heat output.
- Don’t use indoor lights outside and vice versa. And don’t exceed wattage and the recommended number of strings you can plug in together.
- Before you put up lights, check them. Replace any broken or burned out bulbs if necessary.
- Check the light strings and extension cords you use. Throw out any that are frayed or have exposed wires.
- Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) outlets when plugging in outdoors. Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.
- Don’t run more than three strings of lights off a power cord, and never let connectors rest in puddles, on the ground or in gutters. Also, don’t use staples or nails to secure wires in place because it can damage the wire and create a fire hazard.
- Anyone using laser lights should take care to point them at something, rather than allowing them to shine into the sky.
- Never run extension cords under carpets or through doorways.
- Don’t remove the third prong on plugs. It is a ‘grounding pin’ that prevents shock in the event of electrical equipment failure.
- This one’s a biggie:Turn off all holiday lights before you go to bed or leave your home.
Christmas Tree Tips
- If you are a traditionalist and use a real tree, make sure it’s fresh. When selecting it, you can tell if the needles are hard to pull off. Cut off about two inches before putting it in the stand and water it daily.
- Keep the tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, candles, radiators, stoves, fireplaces or heat vents.
- Place the tree away from high traffic areas and doorways.
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
- Keep metal, sharp or breakable tree ornaments with small parts away from young children and pets. Choose tinsel, artificial icicles and other trimmings made of plastic or non-leaded metals.
- Dispose of the tree as soon as the holidays are over or the needles start to fall. Make use of municipal recycling programs and do not burn it in your fireplace.
- If you use an artificial tree, it’s important to remember even a flame retardant or flame-resistant artificial trees can eventually succumb to a fire. Be sure to follow instructions on Christmas tree light packaging to determine how many light strings you can connect.
- Pre-lit artificial trees have been recalled before, so make sure the tree you are using hasn't been recalled on the Healthy Canadians Recall and Safety Alerts Database before using it. Make sure there is no exposed wiring, wiring that is too short or cords that aren't plugged in completely.
- 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.
While this may seem like it’s a lot to remember, much of it is common sense and only takes minutes to check. It’s worth following these tips so you and your loved ones have a safe and worry-free Christmas.
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