From Halloween through the Holidays and into springtime, electric companies undoubtedly witness an uptick in kilowatt usage. Colder temperatures force most of us indoors to stay warm, all while millions of households pull out the holiday decorations to show off their cheer and jeer. And with the newest electronics being gifted amid the holidays, it is no surprise that Americans would be using more electricity during these celebratory months.
Because of the increased activity and demand on our home’s electrical systems, electrical safety becomes an important topic of discussion. Make sure that both you, your family, and houseguests all are aware of these helpful electrical safety tips this winter. It can only work to keep your entire home safe and running smoothly into the new year.
Holiday Fire Statistics
Before we jump into winter electrical safety tips it may be helpful to read some of the holiday fire statistics to get a better idea about just how pervasive of a problem fires are during the winter months.
*All statistics provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Fire departments throughout the United States responded to an average of 160 house fires that were triggered by Christmas trees between the years of 2015-2019. These Christmas tree fires accounted for two fatalities, twelve injuries, and nearly $10 million in property damage.
Electrical equipment, such as decorative string lights, was responsible for almost half of the fires that involved Christmas trees catching on fire.
Excluding Christmas trees, between 2015-2019, U.S. fire departments responded to structure fires at an estimated 790 homes that were started by holiday decorations. The damage caused by fires due to decorative holiday lights resulted in over $13 million in property damage.
1-in-5 fires during the month of December are caused by decorative lighting or electrical devices. This was either because trees or cloth is too close to a heat source such as lighting or even decorative candles.
Candles are always a popular home accent, but they do come with their own set of hazards if used incorrectly or irresponsibly. Nationally, fire departments answered calls on an average of 7,400 home fires that were sparked by the misuse of candles. This resulted in 670 injuries and over $290 million in property damage.
During the month of December, 45% of home fires were caused by candles.
Between 2015-2019, on a daily average, 20 home candle fires were reported.
The peak time of the year for candle fires occurs between December and January
6 Must-Read Electrical Safety Tips for This Winter
Everyone loves the ambiance of a holiday scented candle, but there are alternatives. Pro-tip, use battery-operated candles over live flame decorative candles. This is especially helpful if you have pets or young children in the residence that could accidentally knock a traditional candle over which may result in a fire. There is a wide selection of scented battery-operated candles on the market today that offer the same glow and smell without being a fire hazard.
2. Christmas Trees
Keeping holiday trees well hydrated can really help ease the risk of a fire. Ensure that your tree isn’t touching open flames, outlets, or has lights left on overnight without supervision. If you do opt for an artificial tree, make sure that the label is marked as fire-resistant.
3. Decorative Lights
It isn’t unusual for homeowners to string multiple strands of lights together at a single time. This should be avoided at all costs. It is recommended that you don’t string more than 3 strands of light together. Also, make sure to use outdoor lights, in outdoor environments only, while indoor lights should be solely used indoors. Plug all outdoor lighting into GFCI outlets to avoid power surges.
4. Electrical Cords and Wiring
Be sure to inspect all extension cords and electrical cords prior to use. Check for kinks, frays, or singed wiring, and discard if you notice any damage to the cord itself. Don’t place cords or electrical wiring in places where it may be damaged. This includes under furniture, leading out to sliding doors, or in high-traffic areas of the home.
5. LED Lighting and Energy-Efficient Bulbs
The amazing world of LED lighting has evolved dramatically over the years. They are now safer, more cost-effective, and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. They also, more importantly, create far less heat, which makes them less of a fire hazard.
6. Don’t Leave Lights On at Night
This is probably the most valuable tip of all. While it is nice to wake up to a tree or mantle full of twinkling lights, it is dangerous to leave decorative lights on overnight and unattended. Unplug all lights, both indoors and outdoors, before going to bed this holiday season.
Schedule Holiday Lighting Installation with Service Today 24/7
Serving the entire Twin Cities metro area, Service Today is a trusted source for holiday lighting installation and emergency electrical services. We also service heaters, furnaces, and conduct boiler maintenance (and other heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical services). Receive regular maintenance as a member of our SHAPE Membership program and call (888) 409-9784 to schedule your heater tune-up appointment today