Decorate safely this holiday season!
If you are using a real tree, check to make sure the needles are fresh and green. If the needles fall off easily, that means the tree is drying out it is a fire hazard. Never put a tree near any heat source like a fireplace or space heater. Water your tree every day.
Make sure all candles are in a sturdy candle holder. Don’t burn a candle all the way down – stop using it when about 2 inches of wax remain. Keep candles away from curtains, windows, or exits. Candles on a low coffee table can be a danger for small children or pets. Never leave candles unattended.
Check all your holiday lights before you hang them. Don’t keep any lights with frayed or cracked cords or damaged sockets. As a general rule never connect more than 3 strands of lights together but it’s best to check the manufacturer’s recommendation. Don’t overload your outlets or run extension cords under carpets.
Are your lights approved for outdoor use? Indoor lights can catch fire if used outside. Do not overload your lights by connecting more than what is recommended. Not only will you short out circuits but you could also cause a fire. Make sure all exterior lights are plugged into a ground fault interrupter circuit.
When putting up lights outside, try to pick a day when the weather is good. Wind can increase the chance of you losing your balance and in the case of rain, no one wants to be working with electricity!
Test all your lights before you get up on the roof. It’s easier to replace bulbs on the ground! Make sure your ladder is on stable even ground before you use it.
Use clips made for hanging lights such as gutter clips and trim clips. Do not use a staple gun to hang your lights. A staple gun can crush the light strand and cause it to short out or catch fire.
Keep in mind that decorative lights are made for temporary use – take them down within 90 days to prevent them from being damaged by the weather.
Happy and safe decorating!
By: Cinda Seamon -Fire & Life Safety Educator, Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue