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“The year’s largest and most festive holiday season is upon us. In addition to the cheer, sharing and family togetherness, safety should be considered when decorating the house,” said Scott McCloud, AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO®) principal communications consultant in Shreveport. “Electrical safety is especially important during the holiday season due to decorative lights draped through trees and around homes.”
LED (light-emitting diode) string lighting uses about 90 percent less energy than standard incandescent string lights, which means the cost to light a typical tree with LEDs is about $1 per season. LED holiday lights are a bit more expensive than incandescent, but usually pay for themselves with the first year’s energy savings. LED lights generate much less heat and are cool to the touch, and can last up to 10 years.
SWEPCO recommends the following safety tips for your home this holiday season.
Use only lights and extension cords that are safety-certified by a recognized testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Check your tree lights and outdoor lights for damage each year before you use them. Discard lights with frayed wires, loose connections and broken or cracked sockets.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using tree lights. All lights should be fastened securely to the tree, but never with conductive wire. Bulbs should not come into direct contact with needles or branches on natural trees. Though they don’t emit much heat, it could eventually be enough to dry out the tree limbs.
Never attach electric lights to metal trees. A malfunction could lead to a dangerous, perhaps fatal, shock to anyone touching any part of the tree. Instead, use colored flood lights to give a safer illumination.
Select lights appropriately and never use indoor lights outside because they are not designed to be waterproof and could short circuit. Outdoor lights, on the other hand, are usually hotter than indoor and could pose a hazard if placed on a tree.
Don’t overload wall outlets or extension cords. Connect lights to power strips that have several outlets and a built-in circuit breaker. Never run electrical cords under carpets or rugs where daily walking and wear could cause fraying and overheating. Unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment before restoring power if fuses blow or circuits trip in the home.
When you leave the house or go to bed, be sure all lights are turned off. Disconnect lights by pulling the plug, not by yanking on the cord.
Remind children never to touch lights or outlets.