Holiday Safety Checklist – Not Just for the Professionals

Light string taped

Santa and safety pros are not the only ones with a checklist.

Before your celebrations begin, please make time to go over a safety checklist for the holidays. (And it may not hurt to check it twice!)

We got these six tips from Electrical Safety Foundation International, or ESFI. While ESFI has plenty of safety information on their website on different topics, we’re going to focus on their electrical safety tips here.

Safety Checklist from ESFI:

  1. Inspect your decorations and discard any that are damaged or worn out.
  2. Do not overload electrical outlets. If you find yourself using extension cords or adapters that add receptacles, consider having a qualified electrician add more outlets to that room.
  3. Connect only three strings of incandescent lights together. Connecting more than three to one outlet may blow a fuse or start a fire.
  4. Protect cords from damage. Make sure not to run them under rugs or furniture, out of windows, or across walkways and sidewalks.
  5. Check decorations for certification labels. Depending on what country you’re in, you’ll want to see an independent laboratory’s label appropriate to that country. The label shows the product has been tested for safety. Examples of independent labs include Underwriters Laboratories (UL),  Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or  Intertek (ETL). (See #3 below in our second list.)
  6. Turn off your decorations and space heaters when you leave your home or office.

Here are some e-Hazard favorites:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings as you decorate.  This is also known as situational awareness. If you’re using a ladder outdoors, do you know where your power lines are? Do you know how far to stay away from them?
  2. Use extension cords properly. For example, they shouldn’t be daisy-chained. See Electric Safety: 4 Common Mistakes Using Extension Cords and What Does OSHA Say About Plugging Extension Cords Together?
  3. Be wary of electrical products that are unlisted, unlabeled, or marketed under false pretense. For example, words like “UL Approved” or similar language mean nothing. Proper listings from the UL will say “UL  Listed,” “UL Recognized,” and “UL Classified.” Any other wording indicates a marketing tactic. The same applies to other listing companies like Intertek, FM, or any of the 19 Nationally-Recognized Testing Labs (NRTLs).
  4. Do not use metal staples or nails to secure temporary electrical circuits. Instead, choose plastic staples to avoid creating electrical fire hazards.
  5. ALWAYS use GFCIs  (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) for any outdoor electrical circuits. These protectors come in both portable and permanent methods. Receptacles can be changed out to a GFCI receptacle by a licensed electrician . Likewise, circuit breakers can be swapped out to provide GFCI protection, as well as AFCI protection (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters). Portable GFCI  whips can be used as long as they are outdoor-rated.

As always, we at e-Hazard care about the safety of everyone who works on electrical equipment and those who come in contact with electricity. Stay safe, and may the upcoming holidays bring you joy and leave wonderful memories!

 

Ken Sellars

Ken Sellars

Ken Sellars is an instructor of electrical safety, NEC, Grounding/Bonding and Arc Flash Safety courses nationwide. Read more about Ken.

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