Splendid décor inside and outside the home should create a sense of merriment and brightness as the traditional holiday season embraces us. But smart decorating starts not only with a twinkle of inspiration but also with having seasonal safety precautions in mind. With a little due diligence, consumers can avoid the risks of an electrical hazard when decking the halls and fa-la-la-laing. CSA Group, a leading testing and certification organization, would like to remind everyone of the following safety tips for a safer and happy holiday:
Whatever your faith, don’t fall for fakes: Whether it’s a Christmas light display, a waving Santa, or an electronic menorah, avoid counterfeit electronic decorations that haven’t been certified for safe use or performance. Look for the real mark from an accredited certification organization like CSA Group on light strings, extension cords, and animated displays; ensure any that you plan to use outdoors are certified and marked for outdoor use; and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid electrical items without certification marks and be cautious of deals too good to be true from temporary online or retail discount stores.
Keep the old holiday traditions, not the old lights: Carefully inspect light strings each year. Discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections. Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs and check to ensure replacement bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original.
Break the rules of design, not safety: Go ahead and get creative with your décor but follow instructions when dealing with anything electrical. Turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working with outdoor wiring. Keep electrical connectors above ground, out of water, and away from metal eavestroughs. Connect outdoor lighting into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) which can provide protection from electric shock by sensing ground leakage and cutting electrical power.
Don’t overextend yourself: Use heavy duty extension cords for high wattage decorations and large electronically-animated displays and don’t overload extension cords.
Natural or not, pick the perfect tree: If you buy a real tree, make sure it’s fresh. Fresh trees will be less likely to dry out and become a fire hazard. Artificial trees with electrical lights built into their displays should have a certification mark on them and should be made of fire-resistant material.
Always have a working carbon monoxide and smoke alarm.
Design with safety in mind: Whatever your theme, place breakable ornaments out of the reach of children and pets and don’t let them play with light strings. Opt for flame-resistant decorations and don’t use open flames or candles on or near flammable materials such as wreaths, trees or paper decorations. Never tack or staple lighting strings or extension cords to a wall as this may damage the insulation and create a shock or fire hazard. Use insulated fasteners rather than metal nails or tacks to hold light strings in place to help avoid a shock from damaged wire.
It’s more than a faux pas to keep lights up: Outdoor holiday lights are made for seasonal use only; extended exposure to harsh weather and extreme temperatures can present a very real risk of shock or fire. After the holiday season, take down decorations and store them in their original packaging to keep the proper use instructions for next year.
About CSA Group
CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit member-based association dedicated to advancing safety, sustainability and social good. We are an internationally-accredited standards development and testing & certification organization. We also provide consumer product evaluation and education & training services. Our broad range of knowledge and expertise includes: industrial equipment, plumbing & construction, electro-medical & healthcare, appliances & gas, alternative energy, lighting and sustainability. The CSA mark appears on billions of products around the world.
Manager, Corporate Affairs