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.