This weekend I want to remind you to be mindful of how many strings of Christmas lights (or inflatables) you plug in together.
While the newer LED light strings don’t pull nearly as much electricity as incandescent bulb strings do, it is still a good idea to pay attention to how many you plug in together – especially when plugging one string into another!
I remember in high school finding a plugin in our living room just as it caught on fire from too many light strings plugged in together in one long string of plugs!
Christmas is a time where there are more house fires than normal, and Christmas trees are often the cause. Between 2015 & 2019, the average was 160 fires each year started by Christmas trees!
Winter holiday fire facts
- Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in almost half of home Christmas tree fires.
- Nearly one in five Christmas tree fires were started by decorative lights. Eight percent were started by candles.
- Roughly two of every five home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.
- Year round, more than one-third (35 percent) of home decoration fires were started by candles. This jumped to almost half in December when candles started 45 percent of such fires. Cooking started one-fifth (19%) of decoration fires.
- See more statistics on winter holiday fires.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure that you’re using Christmas lights as safely as possible:
- Check all strings of lights carefully before hanging. It’s not uncommon for cords to suffer water damage or get gnawed on by rodents.
- Throw away Christmas lights with frayed, chewed, or cracked cords.
- Replace loose or broken bulbs; make sure you know the correct wattage for replacement bulbs.
- Do not exceed maximum number of light strands that can be connected, as per manufacturer’s instructions on the box.
- “Touch test” your extension cords after plugging them in and removing. They should not be hot.
- Do not tuck extension cords under the tree skirt or other area rugs.
- Unplug lights before going to bed or leaving your house.
- Make a fresh cut on your tree stump before standing it (or ask the Christmas tree vendor to cut the trunk for you). Water it immediately and daily, for as long as the tree continues to take in water.
- Choose the freshest tree you can find. Look for one with needles that don’t pull off easily, ideally with some sap on the trunk.
Real Christmas trees are three times more likely to be involved in a Christmas tree fire, compared to artificial trees. But that doesn’t mean artificial trees can’t catch fire. If you have a fake tree, you still need to be careful not to place it too near a heat source and to use appropriate lighting, according to all the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re in the market for a new artificial tree, make a point to shop for a flame-resistant model.
Stay safe this Christmas!