EDITORIAL: Keeping the holidays safe and bright

A little bit of caution will save a whole lot of trouble and keep you and family safe, happy and healthy this holiday season.

United Illuminating and Eversource offer tips to keep Christmas, Hanukah and New Year’s Eve the most merry time of the year.

  • Make sure to use lights that have been safety tested and are appropriate for the way they’ll be used.
  • Ensure that lights placed outside are labeled for outdoor use in cold weather.
  • Check all lights, especially older ones, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard any damaged sets.
  • Inspect extension cords and practice extension cord safety. Never run cords under rugs or coil them tightly around themselves, which can cause them to overheat.
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits or extension cords; follow the directions on cord labels regarding connecting light strings and extension cords. If a cord feels hot to the touch, it is overloaded and may cause an electrical fire. To reduce the risk of fire, don’t overload a circuit.
  • Additionally, make sure the cords are out of the way so that nobody trips over them.

Consider a programmable timer to strings of lights to ensure lights are not accidentally left on. This helps regulate energy use and reduce cost.

  • Plug outdoor lights and decorations into grounding outlets. Portable units can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.
  • Always look up before decorating outdoors. Never raise ladders or extend objects into or near power lines.
  • Use only lights approved by OSHA-certified laboratories, like Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
  • Holiday lights using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) use one-tenth the energy of traditional mini-lights and are cooler to the touch, reducing the risk of fire.
  • Always turn off lights when not in use.
  • Use caution not to drive nails, staples or tacks through wiring insulation.
  • Christmas tree limbs and hot lights can be a dangerous combination, so if you have a live tree, be sure to keep it fresh. Before you put the tree in its stand, cut its base at a 45-degree angle so it can absorb water. Water the tree liberally — the average tree can consume between a quart and a gallon of water a day. Remove the tree promptly after the holiday or when it becomes dry.         
  • Keep flammable decorations away from the tree’s lights. Make sure that electric window candles do not touch draperies or other flammable objects.
  • Keep wires away from toddlers and pets. Push wires toward the center of the tree, and clip them securely to the branches.
  • Never use electric lights on metallic trees. Avoid using plastic trees unless they’re flame-resistant.
  • Use only outdoor-approved lights that can withstand the cold.
  • Never use lighted candles near trees or boughs.
  • Keep poisonous plants out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep trees away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.
  • Check to make sure that tree limbs aren’t near power lines. Remember that no power line is safe to touch, ever.
  • In the kitchen, keep close watch on your stovetop, grill, and oven while in use, and never use them as a heating source.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and plan emergency fire escape routes.

Following these simple measures will ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Ui and Eversource offer tips on safe and efficient use of holiday lights.

Ui and Eversource offer tips on safe and efficient use of holiday lights.

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