It’s the time of year to stock up on sweet treats and fill the yard and home with decorations as ghosts, goblins and caped crusaders plan their invasion of your neighborhood. As part of the “Teach Learn Care” TLC campaign, Safe Electricity urges everyone to make sure your costumed visitors are kept safe by following some basic electrical safety guidelines.
“Electric displays with spooky sounds, flashing lights, and fog machines all add to the setting of your fall festivities and Halloween decorations, but used improperly, they can also create danger of electrical shocks, fires and burns,” warns Safe Electricity Director Molly Hall. “Be sure to take a few precautions so that you don’t have a real Halloween scare this year.”
Tips to avoid potential safety hazards:
- Use only lights that have been safety tested and approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Look for the UL label on the box and on each string
- Make sure extension cords are in good condition. Use only UL-approved cords rated to carry the electrical load you will connect to them
- Before plugging in the lights, check each string for broken sockets, frayed cords, or faulty plugs. Replace damaged strings.
- Keep electric cords out of high-traffic areas.
- Don’t staple or nail through light strings or electrical cords.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold light strings in place, not nails or tacks
- Do not attach cords or lights to metal objects
- Outdoors, use only lights and cords rated for outdoor use
- Cords should be plugged into outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Use a portable GFCI if your outdoor outlets don’t have them
- Always unplug lights before going to bed or leaving your home.
“Make sure to keep electrical objects away from flammable objects, such as hay bales, cornstalks and fabric costumes. While adding to the ambiance, the heat from lights and other electrical decorations could potentially cause a fire,” says Hall. “Also, don’t allow children or pets to play with light strings or other electrical decorations that can shock or burn.” says Hall.
Whether decorating or using extension cords in general, read the label on both the cord and the appliances that are plugged into it to make sure the cord can handle the load. If it can’t, use a higher-rated cord or unplug some appliances. Remember that extension cords are meant for temporary, not permanent, use. With caution, learn what breakers protect each section of your home and label them. Don’t overload your circuit breakers/fuses. Do not run electrical cords across sidewalks or other walkway areas that could trip or endanger trick-or-treaters. Indoors, avoid stretching cords across a room where people or pets can trip over them or become entangled. Also, don’t hide cords under carpeting or rugs or run them behind curtains or blinds.
A safe celebration is the best celebration, and following basic electrical safety guidelines will help you avoid real scares and keep your memories of fall 200 “boo-tiful” and fun.
For more safety tips, visit www.safeelectricity.org