ESFI Offers Post-holiday Safety Tips

The holiday season has come and gone, but your decorations still remain prominently displayed. Whether you enjoy the sight of them or simply have not found the time to take them down, by leaving your decorations up for extended periods of time you may be inadvertently exposing yourself and your family to dangerous electrical hazards.

Now that the holidays are over, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) reminds you to keep safety in mind when packing and storing indoor and outdoor electrical decorations. During the first week of January, ESFI recommends that you take down, inspect, and store all decorations to make sure that they are safe for use next year.

Remember, holiday decorations are intended for temporary use only. Keeping decorations displayed for several months leaves wires unnecessarily exposed to the elements, shortening the life span of the product and creating serious dangers of electric shock and fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 330 residential structure fires occur each winter where decorations are involved in the ignition. On average more than 200 fire-related fatalities and injuries occur on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 alone.

ESFI offers the following electrical safety tips to help you stay safe as you wrap up the holiday season:

• Discard broken or faulty lights.
• Make sure that electrical cords are in good condition, and are not frayed or cracked.
• Separate outdoor from indoor decorations, and label accordingly.
• Inspect ladders for loose or missing screws, hinges, bolts and nuts.
• If you do not already have them, purchase fire extinguishers and smoke detectors for your home.
• Use the gripping area of the plug when unplugging lights and appliances. Yanking or tugging on electrical cords can damage the wires and insulation, resulting in electric shock or fire.
• Store decorations safely out of reach from children, pets, and water.
• Make sure all electrical lights, toys and appliances bear the seal of a nationally recognized certification laboratory such as CSA or Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
• Send warranty and product registration forms to manufacturers so that they can notify you promptly in case of a recall.

To learn more about the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and holiday electrical safety, visit www.electrical-safety.org or www.holidaysafety.org.

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