1. Only plug appliances directly into wall outlets.
During the holidays, you might be short on space to plug in appliances and electronics. If this happens, only use multi-outlet adapters and power strips for electronics that draw a small amount of power, such as:
- String lights
- Phones and tablets
An appliance can easily overload a power strip or outlet adapter and increase the risk of a fire, so you should only ever plug appliances directly into a wall outlet. This is true for even small appliances like microwave ovens, slow cookers, toasters, blenders, and coffee makers.
2. Don’t “daisy-chain” extension cords or power strips.
“Daisy-chaining” refers to when you plug one extension cord into another extension cord (or one power strip into another power strip). While this might seem like a smart way to get more length, you’re increasing the likelihood of your electronics overheating and starting a fire. Daisy-chaining also violates the National Electrical Code safety regulations, so it’s better to avoid the risk and buy a longer cord.
3. Don’t staple or nail string lights to your home.
When you staple or nail up string lights, you run the risk of damaging the insulation around the wire. Exposed wiring increases the risk of electrocution, but even more so, of electrical fires. Hooks and clips are a much safer alternative–and they’re less likely to damage your home!
4. Take extra care with small children and pets.
Holiday decorations can look like fun toys to toddlers but present choking, strangulation, and electrical hazards. Never leave small children unsupervised around string lights or other decorations. If they’re old enough, make sure they know not to pull on the cords or toy with the outlets.
While it’s possible to talk with your kids about electrical hazards, you’ll have much less luck trying to communicate those dangers to your animals. Kittens and puppies are particularly at risk for electric shock because they’re more likely to see cords as something to bite and chew. For cords you can’t hide, consider covering them with a protector or spraying them with a taste deterrent.
5. Don’t let your Christmas tree dry out.
From 2013 to 2017, Christmas trees were involved in an average of 160 home fires yearly. Avoid this disaster by keeping your Christmas tree hydrated throughout the holiday season and keeping flames, sparks, and sources of high heat away from it. If possible, avoid placing the tree by a heat source (like a radiator) because that will cause it to dry out faster. Lastly, never leave the tree’s lights on overnight or while you’re away from home.