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Decorating homes and businesses is a time-honored tradition around the holiday season. Flickering lights, scented candles and winter greens are holiday staples, but they also present fire risks that can quickly turn this festive time of year into a devastating one. According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated 790 home structure fires per year that begin with decorations (excluding Christmas Trees). These fires cause $14 million in direct property damage. Furthermore 33% of home decoration fires were started by candles and this number jumps to 46% in December.

As we gather with family and friends this Holiday Season, make sure to follow a few simple tips to ensure a happy and safe Holiday Season.

  • Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from decorations and other things that can burn.
  • Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations are marked for proper use.
  • Outdoor electrical lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Inspect all lights, decorations, and extension cords for damage before using.
  • Exercise caution when decorating near power lines. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet from power lines.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Blow out lit candle when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Never connect more than three strings of incandescent lights together.
  • Keep all decorations at least 3 feet away from heating equipment or an open flame.
  • Purchase electrical decorations from reputable retailers and that are approved by a national recognized testing lab such as UL, Intertek, or CSA.
  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look and smell like real candles.

Decorations and Christmas lights help make the Christmas season magical. Whether they are simple or an elaborate masterpiece, make sure and remember the safety tips above to help keep you and your family safe this Holiday Season. Until next time my friends, be prepared and stay safe.

Everyone at the Gerloff Company would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Reference: “In the Right Light – Decorate Your Home Safely During the Holidays” by: Electrical Safety Foundation and National Fire Protection Association