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Prevent Holiday Fire Hazards, Electrical Shocks with These Tips

You'll want to read these tips for preventing fires and electrical shocks this holiday season.

Be careful with your holiday decorations to prevent fires and electrical shock.
Be careful with your holiday decorations to prevent fires and electrical shock.

As families prepare for the holidays, Southern California Edison reminded people to use common-sense precautions with decorative lights to prevent shocks and fire hazards.

"The joy that festive decorations bring can lead people to overlook their potential dangers," said Bill Messner, the utility's health and safety manager. "It is vital that families follow instructions, inspect decorations and practice safety to minimize the risk of electric shock, fires or injuries."

Firefighters nationwide respond to an average of 230 home fires annually that start with Christmas trees, resulting in an average of six deaths, 22 injuries and $18.3 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

About 5,800 people are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations, with more than half of them falling from ladders or roofs while decorating outdoors, the fire association said.

SCE recommended these safety tips for the holidays:

  • never place lights closer than 10 feet from outdoor power lines, and always be aware of the power lines;
  • use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors because metal ladders conduct electricity;
  • always inspect your ladder to ensure it is safe;
  • be sure that electrical cords are not plugged in an angle or a positioned where they can be pinched, such as in windows;
  • use zip cords instead of metal staples, tack or nails to hang lights;
  • use no more than three strands of lights per extension cord because overloads can cause fires or lines to short-circuit;
  • keep lights away from carpeting, furniture, drapes and other flammable materials;
  • use decorations bearing the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Intertek (ETL) labels; 
  • always unplug decorative lights when leaving home or before going to bed.

More safety tips are available at www.sce.com/holidaylighting.

- City News Service

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