Safe Decorating is Another Perfect Gift for the Holidays

December 07, 2015

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

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Dec. 7, 2015 — Christmas trees are the divas of holiday decorations.

They are often the center of attention and they are very high maintenance. They also can be very dangerous.

Two reminders of this occurred in less than a week last January when a fire that followed a Christmas tree being ignited by a candle destroyed a home in Azusa and a blaze fed by an aging, brittle tree demolished a North Hollywood home. Though three firefighters were injured in North Hollywood, it could have been worse.

To help prevent accidents, Southern California Edison reminds its customers that nothing is more important than safety when putting up and maintaining their decorations this holiday season.

“Christmas tree fires can be explosive and fill a room with choking smoke and heat very quickly,” said Paul Jeske, SCE director of Corporate Health and Safety. “For safety, live trees should be watered daily and artificial trees should be fire resistant, and they must be kept at least three feet away from heat sources like space heaters and candles. They also should never be decorated with worn light stands or broken bulbs.”

Christmas tree fires, while not very frequent, are usually serious. U.S. fire departments respond to about 210 home fires annually because of the trees that cause an average of seven deaths, 19 injuries and $17.5 million in damage. Home Christmas tree fires are five times more likely to end in a death compared to home fires not involving trees. One-third of Christmas tree fires result from electrical issues.

Meanwhile, power lines should be a major concern when decorating outdoors. Lights or decorations should never be installed on them or utility poles and decorators should stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.

SCE recommends some other safety tips for the holidays:

  • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity. Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines when using ladders.
  • 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 (or follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
  • 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 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.  

Topics: Safety