Don’t Leave Safety Hanging While Decorating for the Holidays

December 08, 2014

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Media Contact: Paul Netter, (626) 302-2255

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Dec. 8, 2014 — When it comes to decorating, there’s nothing like the winter holidays

This holiday season, Southern California Edison (SCE) reminds its customers that nothing is more important than safety because of the shocks, fires and injuries posed by holiday decorating.

Power lines can be a potential hazard when decorating outdoors. People should never install light strands or decorations on or near power lines — or on utility poles — and they should stay at least 10 feet away from them. It is important to inspect light strands for broken fuses and bulbs in addition to worn wiring. And, it’s vital to keep Christmas trees watered daily — dried-out trees are an extreme fire danger — and at least three feet away from heat sources, like fireplaces and space heaters.

“Electricity helps create wonderful displays during the holidays,” said James Mackenzie, SCE principal manager of Corporate Safety Programs. “But one minor mistake installing or using them could lead to a major issue. The best prevention is education, awareness, careful inspection and following instructions.”

U.S. fire departments respond to about 230 home fires annually that start with Christmas trees, resulting in an average of six deaths, 22 injuries and $18.3 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Electrical problems factored in 32 percent of those fires, the fire association said. Home-candle fires also peak in December, leading safety experts to suggest using battery-operated candles.

Meanwhile, about 5,800 people are treated annually at hospitals for injuries — usually falls from rooftops or ladders — sustained while decorating, the fire association said.

SCE recommends some other safety tips for the holidays:

  • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity.
  • Make sure outdoor decorations are marked for outdoor use and plugged into GFCI-protected outlets.
  • Keep lights directly away from carpeting, furniture, drapes and other flammable materials.
  • Be sure electrical cords are not placed at an angle or position that pinches them, like in windows.
  • Use plastic zip cords when hanging lights instead of staples, tacks or nails.
  • Use no more than three strands of lights per extension cord.
  • Use only decorations bearing the UL, CSA or ETL labels.
  • Always unplug decorative lights when leaving home or before going to bed.

For more on holiday safety, visit on.sce.com/holidaylighting. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About Southern California Edison

An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California. 

Topics: Safety