The holiday season bustles with cheer and celebration. However, don’t let the bright and colorful sparkle of the ornamentations distract you from taking safety seriously when decorating. Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative has these tips to help our member-owners with holiday decorating safety.
When selecting your tree, consider the safest option for your home. If you are decorating with an artificial tree, choose one with fire resistance protection. With a real tree, make sure that the needles are green, and the tree’s trunk is sturdy and sticky with resin. These are indicators that your tree is well-hydrated. Keep your tree stand filled with water so that the tree does not become overly dry and present a fire hazard.
Always consider the optimal placement of your tree. Never place your tree near to heat-emitting devices, such as fireplaces, space heaters and radiators, which can become fire hazards.
Any lights that are hung either inside or outside should have a label indicating that they have been certified by an accredited independent testing laboratory (such as UL).
Also make sure the lights are rated for the location in which they will be used—whether indoors or outside. Before hanging your lights, check the strands for broken bulbs as well as fraying or bare wires that could present electrical hazards. Always replace damaged products.
Typically, one extension cord should only have three strands of lights connected to it at most, but check your lights safety labels and the specifics on the extension cord for its intended use. Never run extension cords under carpets, through doorways, or where they could be damaged by furniture. When outdoors, never run extension cords through wet environments, such as snow. In general, do not overload extension cords as they can become a fire hazard. When securing light strands, never staple or nail them into place, as this could damage the product.
When decorating outside, always be sure to double check that you and any equipment, such as a ladder or a light strand, are a minimum 10 feet away from overhead power lines.
Be sure to turn off all lights before leaving the home or going to sleep. A timer can help you do this.
Lights and decorations that are outdoors should be plugged into an outlet with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. “GFCIs are inexpensive electrical devices that can be installed in a home’s electrical system or built into a power cord to protect against electrical shock,” explains Maaike Schotborgh, OTEC’s Manager of Safety & Loss Control. “A GFCI constantly monitors the flow of electricity through a circuit and will shut the circuit down if it senses a ground fault.”
Your member-owned electric cooperative hopes your season will be merry, bright, and safe. For more information on electrical safety, visit otec.coop/safety.