Decorating the right way

  • Check for cracked or loose sockets and connections, exposed wires and frayed, broken or scorched insulation before plugging in any lights – old or new. Throw away any strings showing flaws.
  • Put lights on a nonflammable surface and plug them in for 10 – 15 minutes to check for melting, smoking or overheating. 
  • Make sure your lights are safety certified. Look for a label that says "Underwriters Laboratories Approved" or "UL Listed."
  • Protect small children and pets by using plastic safety covers on all unused outlets and keeping cords out of sight and reach. A cord as short as 12 inches can strangle a child.
  • Water your real Christmas tree every day, and keep light strings from coming into direct contact with branches. If you have an artificial tree, make sure it's fire-retardant.
  • Make sure the lights and extension cords you use outside are certified for outdoor use and are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet.
  • Keep decorations and ladders away from overhead electrical lights and power lines.
  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines on how many strings of lights can be safely connected together.

Decorating the wrong way

  • Don't leave lights on while you're sleeping or away from home. If you tend to forget, use a timer.
  • Don't plug more than three light strings into an extension cord.
  • Don't use metal staples or nails as fasteners for lights. This can damage the protective insulation covering the wires.
  • Don't leave extension cords out in the open and/or at levels where small children or pets can come in contact with or chew on them.
  • Don't run extension cords across sidewalks or driveways.
Stay safe during the storm

Midwestern storms can bring dangerous lighting, ice, high winds - and power outages. Learn how to prepare and stay safe during and after the storm.

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