Are your Holiday Lights Safe?
It’s no secret that in the past, incandescent string lights could be a fire hazard. Part of the reason was that they used electricity at a higher rate. Sometime in the late 90’s, LED lights became the safe and cost effective alternative. Still, even with these there’s an estimated 860 home decoration fires a year during the holidays. So how safe are these holiday lights exactly? And how can you keep your home safe?
LED vs Incandescent Bulbs
What makes LED lights safer than incandescent? Incandescent bulbs heat up a metal filament so that it glows. That means they release 90% of their energy as heat. These bulbs can get so hot they can cause your holiday decorations and trees to go up in flames. LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, pass electrical current through a semiconductor that emits light. The circuit creates little heat, making them safe to use with other flammable decorations. In addition, the lights are 75% more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, and can last 25 times longer. Still, LED lights are only safe if you take proper the proper precautions.
Preventing Holiday Light Electrical Accidents Outdoors
There’s a couple of simple steps you can take to make sure that your home doesn’t cause the wrong kind of public commotion.
The first is making sure that you have the right equipment, and that it is in good shape. Inspect all of your lights and cords, and never use any that is damaged. Only use lights and extension cords marked for outdoor use with outdoor displays. Outdoor lights and cords have a protective coating that insulates the wires and protects from the elements.
Next is to keep your cords dry and safe. Cords that are wet or on the ground are an electrocution hazard. Avoid running cords under rugs or in high traffic areas where they can be damaged. To protect cord connections outdoors, use an extension cord protector and plug cover. This will keep water out the connection and ensure it remains tight. And never install lights with staples or nails! These can damage wires and cause a short.
You must make sure that you don’t overload your circuits. The Electrical Safety Foundation International suggests not connecting more than three strands of incandescent lights together. It’s also highly recommended that you make sure any outlets you’re using have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). GFCI’s help prevent electrocution by tripping off the current on a circuit if it senses a short. Also, if you notice lights flickering, outlets becoming hot, or other signs of circuit overload then turn the power off at the circuit breaker. Then, relocate some of the lights on that circuit to another one.
Lastly, at night and when you’re not at home turn those lights off! You’ll avoid high electricity bills and potentially coming home to a disaster after a holiday party.
What About the Tree?
In addition to other holiday light hazards, there’s about 200 Christmas tree fires a year. These fires can be easily avoided by taking a few extra precautions. For example, if you have a live Christmas tree, keep it watered regularly. Most Christmas tree fires occur when trees dry out. And because incandescent bulbs can be especially hazardous due to their heat, swap over to LED’s instead. And finally, make sure your tree is at least three feet away from heat sources like radiators, heaters, or candles.
Keep Your Home and Wallet Safe
These tips will help keep your home safe, but how safe is your wallet from rising PTC rates? Don’t fret, you can always swap to a new electricity plan. Search for the best provider, compare rates, and more all in one place. Visit https://www.paenergyratings.com/ today!