Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, and it's time many families are digging out their holiday decorations. But because many of them use electricity, homeowners should take precautions. Here are some tips from Progress Energy for safe decoration installations. Times staff writer
Safety inside the home
• Select trees that are fresh and don't have dry or brown limbs. Keep the tree stand filled with water.
• Keep trees and other greenery away from heat sources, including fireplaces, space heaters or vents.
• Make sure that artificial trees have been tested and labeled as fire-resistant.
• Check holiday lighting packages to determine the maximum number of strands that may be linked together safely. Always follow the manufacturer's directions.
• Inspect light strands to ensure there are no electrical problems or damage to the wiring before using.
• Avoid connecting light sets with different numbers of bulbs as they may have different electrical requirements.
• Don't place cords under rugs, furniture or other appliances. Doing so can cause cords to overheat or become frayed, possibly resulting in a fire. Also, take care when routing cords so that they do not become a tripping hazard.
• Check all extension cords for fraying, cracks or loose connections. If at all in doubt, replace them.
• Don't bunch lights too closely together, as they can generate excessive heat that can melt insulation and expose live wires.
• Always turn off inside or outside decorative lighting when you go to bed or leave the house.
Safety outside the home
• Use only lights that are specifically designed for outdoor use.
• When installing lights, be cautious of overhanging power lines, especially when using a ladder.
• Never staple or nail through extension cords or holiday lighting wires. Doing so could damage wires and insulation, resulting in electric shock or fire.
• Always use outdoor-rated extension cords and make sure that the current rating (in amps or "A") of the device you are plugging in does not exceed the rating on the extension cord. Overloading extension cords can cause overheating. Make sure there are no cracks, fraying or loose connections.
• Ensure that wires and lighting are not placed in areas prone to standing water or flooding.