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National Fire Prevention Association releases safety tips for holiday decorating

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It’s that time of year again when homeowners across the U.S. hang their stockings by the fire and bring a twinkling glow to their homes, many starting to hang lights right after Thanksgiving.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) says electrical lights are involved in two out of five home Christmas tree fires.

Here are the tips suggested by the NFPA:

  1. Only purchase lights, electronic decorations and extension cords that are UL-Listed. (UL is a safety certification that say the lights have been tested and approved by a recognized safety-testing agency)
  2. Consider purchasing LED lights; they use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent lights.
  3. Keep the indoor lights, indoors. Putting indoor-only products outside in the weather can result in electric shock and fire hazards, so check the labels carefully to make sure your lights are safe to use outdoors. All outdoor lights should be plugged into GFCI outlets.
  4. Inspect for damage. Check all lights, electric decorations and extension cords for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs, and bulbs. If the damage can be easily repaired, such as replacing a broken bulb, do not use the item until the repair has been made. If cords and plugs are damaged, discard and replace the decoration.
  5. Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity; using one could result in severe electric shock.
  6. Do not use staples, nails or tacks to hang electrical cords as these can pierce the protective insulation.
  7. Don’t overload outlets. No more than three strands of lights should be plugged into each electrical cord or outlet.
  8. Check lights often. Every so often, check holiday light wires to make sure that they’re not warm to the touch. Overheated wires can spark a fire.
  9. Always unplug lights before changing bulbs, replacing fuses, or making any other repairs. If you need to replace a bulb in a string of Christmas lights, make sure that the wattage rating of the replacement bulb you’re using matches that of the light strand. Using a bulb with too high a wattage can cause the light string to overheat, creating a fire risk.
  10. Turn off when not being monitored. Always turn off all Christmas lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.
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