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Overloaded Electrical Outlets

Christmas Decoration Safety

There is no denying that Christmas time brings out the festive nature in most of us. However, some translate that festive attitude into over the top Christmas decorations inside and outside of their homes. You know the ones; they've got to outdo their neighbor's light display from last year. It's a comical theme so ingrained that we see it in movies all of the time. But there is nothing comical about the dangers of overloading electrical outlets. The statistics are quite grim and it costs lives each year.

The National Fire Protection Association’s data shows that 30% of home fires annually occur between December and February. And 150 of those home fires were due to holiday decorative lighting. That’s a staggering $8.9 million in property damage as well as injuries and some deaths. We cannot stress enough the dangers of overloading electrical outlets with Christmas light decorations.

Tips To Avoid Overloading Outlets

Most electrical outlets in homes are rated for 15 amps of current. Newer homes may have outlets inside and out that are rated at 20 amps. The standard rule is not to use more than 80% of the amperage of the outlet. So what that means is don't overload an outlet with multiple adapters so you can plug in more lights. Because the weight of all of the plugs pulls the adapter downwards and this can expose the still energized blades which can lead to sparks and fire.

If you still use incandescent lights because you love the look of the larger bulbs, do not string more than three sets together. Attaching too many sets of incandescent lights in series can lead to tripped breakers and even fires due to the higher wattage these bulb types draw. More modern Christmas lights utilize a much lower wattage LED light. Not only do they draw less wattage, but they also don’t get hot like your grandfather’s incandescent lights.

Extension Cord Safety

Another big safety tip is the use of extension cords. Whenever it is necessary to utilize an extension cord, make sure you use the correct extension cord for the job. Two wire cords are great for indoor lights and three wire (grounded) cords are much safer for use on outside lights and decorations. Never adapt an extension cord plug to fit an electrical outlet.

Always make sure the load of the extension cord is adequate for the number of lights or decorations you want to add. Too much power traveling through an extension cord can cause overheating and that can result in a fire.

Lastly, before you begin to decorate inside or out, take the time to inspect everything! Never use lights, decorations, or extension cords that are damaged in any way. Make sure the insulation is intact and that there are no areas with exposed wires or indications of melted insulation.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday!