Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), an American Electric Power (AEP: Nasdaq) company, encourages the public to be mindful of electrical safety during the holiday season due to decorative lights draped through trees and around homes.
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 floodlights 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 are usually hotter than indoor and could pose a hazard if placed on a tree.
- Connect lights to power strips that have several outlets and a built-in circuit breaker to avoid overloading wall outlets or extension cords. 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.
- Be sure to turn off all lights when you leave the house or go to bed. Disconnect lights by pulling the plug, not by yanking on the cord.
- Remind children never to touch lights or outlets.
- Before putting up lights or other outdoor decorations, look up and stay clear of overhead power lines. Keep ladders, lights, tools and yourself at least 10 feet away from power lines.
To save energy this holiday season, SWEPCO suggests using LED (light-emitting diode) string lights.
“LED 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,” said Chelsea Adcock, SWEPCO’s consumer programs marketing coordinator. “LED holiday lights are a bit more expensive upfront 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, which is also a great safety feature, and can last up to 10 years.”