‘Deck the halls’ with lots of safety this holiday season with these 6 tips from a UAB expert

Stay safe this holiday season with these electrical safety tips from a UAB expert.

Stream Christmas lightsStay safe this holiday season with these electrical safety tips from a UAB expert.The holidays are finally here! Many enjoy celebrating the season with elaborate decorations and spending time with family. However, while the season of giving is often known as “the most wonderful time of the year,” a joyous occasion can quickly end if safety is not kept a priority while “decking the halls.”

One University of Alabama at Birmingham expert wants to make sure you and your family stay safe this holiday season with these simple holiday electrical safety tips.

Inspect, discard and replace all worn or damaged electrical products

Before you “trim the tree” this winter, make sure to first inspect all decorations for damage, especially anything electrical.

Lanny Floyd, adjunct professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering, says worn and damaged Christmas décor, particularly decorative lights, is a primary reason the holidays see an increase in temporary electrical exposures.

“Always replace and discard any worn decorations,” Floyd said. “For electrical decorations, exposed or frayed wiring can be deadly and may directly result in electric shock.”

Electric shock exposure occurs whenever the human body comes in contact with an exposed, ungrounded, electrical source.

Damaged wiring can also be a fire hazard when considering the unpredictability of the weather and climate.

Buy only from reputable suppliers

There are many different retailers for holiday decorations. It is good practice to buy electrical decorations only from reputable retailers. Counterfeit products have a higher potential to cause fires and electric shock if they are not manufactured correctly.

inside hanging lights“Some counterfeit products with lighting functions have been proved to have smaller copper wiring than what the standards call for, which could then cause overloads and overheating issues,” Floyd said.

Floyd says the risk is not worth the reward when it comes to safety.

“A deal that is too good to be true sometimes is,” Floyd said. “When it comes to the safety of you and your family, it is worth it to buy products that are quality.”

Utilize ground fault circuit interrupters

Ground fault circuit interrupters should be essential for all outdoor holiday lighting.

“When using decorative lights specifically rated for outdoor use, GFCIs need to be included so that electric shock exposure can be avoided,” Floyd said.

The risk of electric shock exposure increases outdoors because you are standing directly on natural surfaces.

Also, remember to never hang Christmas lights while they are already plugged in, and always use the appropriate equipment to install them.

Keep natural trees watered to avoid the fire hazards of dry limbs

A dried-out Christmas tree can be the perfect storm for a fire. When met with an intense amount of heat, the needles of the tree can become susceptible kindling for flame.

Remember to test your smoke alarms regularly!

“Make sure to water your tree consistently,” Floyd said. “It goes without saying; but an open heat source, such as your favorite holiday candle, can easily cause a tree to catch fire.”

Keeping your tree fresh as long as possible is key to limiting any risk of fire. Always make sure to properly dispose of live trees after appropriate holiday use.

Distance heat sources away from objects and decorations

The United States Fire Administration says that more than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles.

Open heat sources such as candles and heaters should always be treated with the utmost care and vigilance. Make sure to keep any heat source an appropriate distance away from all objects.

inside heatThe Electrical Safety Foundation recommends keeping heat sources approximately 3 feet away from all decorations.

Remember to turn off any heaters and blow out candles when you leave the room.

Keep in mind that the overall placement of decorations is a general safety tip to avoid physical injuries like trips, slips and falls.

Floyd said, “Never run cords under rugs or furniture, out of windows, or across walkways.”

Turn off all electrical décor when away from home or when going to bed

Making sure to turn off and unplug all electrical décor can avert a crisis when you are not home.

Following basic electrical safety is essential to enjoying the entirety of the holiday season.