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7 Winter Electrical Safety Tips from Denver Electricians

These tips are important to consider with the holidays approaching. This is the time when we have the most household accidents and fires.

We all want wintertime to be about the holidays and family, and our winter electrical safety tips for your Denver area home will keep it that way!

Statistics show that sales of electrical products increase during the month of December.

This increase in electrical product purchases, combined with Colorado’s colder weather increases the likelihood of electrical fires, electrocutions, and injuries.

Winter holiday electrical safety facts:

  • More home fires occur during the winter months than during any other part of the year.
  • Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States.
  • More than two of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.
  • The increase in electrical product purchases in December, combined with colder weather in many parts of the country, increases the likelihood of electrical fires, electrocutions, and injuries.

7 Winter Electrical Safety Tips:

We all want to have a fun and safe holiday season. So it’s important to be aware of the do’s and don’ts to keep your everyone safe now and throughout the year.

Remember, it is always best to have a professional electrician handle your rewiring and installation projects!

1. Don’t Plug Space Heaters into Extension Cords or Power Strips.

Power strips are not designed to handle the high current that space heaters require. The high current passing through the power strip can cause it to melt, burn, or even catch on fire.

The safest option is to plug a space heater into a wall outlet. And, avoid plugging anything else into the same wall outlet as the heater.

Most space heaters draw enough power to overload a circuit that has other lights or outlets connected to it. If a space heater is being used regularly, consider adding a dedicated circuit and outlet for the unit.

Space heaters are meant to put out a lot of heat so keep anything flammable like papers, drapes pillows, sofas, and blankets away from it. It’s also important to supervise children around space heaters to avoid a burn or shock.

Space heaters should never be left to run unattended! Turn off space heaters when you leave home or while you are sleeping. It only takes seconds for a fire to start if a space heater tips over or comes in contact with something combustible, like a blanket or curtains.

Don’t place a heater on any surface that can overheat and start a fire like a cabinet, table, or carpeting. The best place to put a space heater is on a flat, level surface that will not overheat, like a tile or hardwood floor.

Click here for additional winter space heater safety tips.

2. Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets.

Everyone wants their home lit up and festive during the holidays. With that said, one of our important winter electrical safety tips is to only plug one high-wattage decoration into each wall outlet to avoid overloading the electrical outlets. This is a common cause of holiday fires.

If too much current is drawn from the circuit, the circuit breaker trips or the fuse blows, breaking the circuit to prevent an overload. But circuit breakers and fuses aren’t always reliable.

Also, lights on your Christmas tree should be plugged into a surge protector to help avoid a voltage spike, causing all of the lights on your tree to burn out.

Be mindful of how you are using electrical outlets. If you’re using extension cords or adapters that add receptacles, consider having a qualified electrician add more outlets to your home. Extension cords are a common cause of home fires.

Upgrade to Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter breakers or outlets. It is estimated that half of the electrical fires that occur every year could be prevented by AFCIs. All upgrades should be completed by a qualified electrician.

3. Replace Old or Worn-Out Heating Pads and Electric Blanket Safety.

Heating pads and electric blankets cause close to 500 fires each year. Almost all of these fires involve electric blankets that are more than ten years old.

There are two types of personal heating appliances – heating pads that are placed directly on the mattress and electric blankets. They are not meant to be used interchangeably or used at the same time.

Our winter electrical safety tips include replacing any worn or old heating pad or electric blanket. And do not put anything on top of a heating pad or electric blanket when it is in use. When covered by anything, including other blankets or pets, electric blankets may overheat.

Keep in mind to never fold electric blankets when in use. Folded or tucked-in blankets can overheat and cause a fire. Lastly, don’t leave a heating device unattended or used while sleeping.

4. Don’t Connect More Than Three Strings of Holiday Lights.

Never connect more than three strings of lights. More than three strands may not only trip a circuit breaker but also can cause a fire.

Our winter electrical safety tip is to purchase LED lights which use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent lights. Also, make sure spotlights used to illuminate decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather and a safe distance from flammable items.

Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses. Remember to turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.

Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.

Also, check for safety certification on holiday decorations and lights from independent laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories.

5. Use the Right Type of Outdoor Extension Cords and Lights.

When setting up outdoor decorations, use lights and extension cords specified for outdoor use.

There is a difference between outdoor and indoor extension cords. You can use an outdoor extension cord inside, but you should not use an indoor extension cord outside. Outdoor extension cords have more durable insulation to protect the wires from moisture and temperature changes.

For running Christmas lights, pick a 16-gauge extension cord for light runs of 25 feet or less and go with a heavier duty 14-gauge cord for runs over 25 feet.

If you’re using extension cords or adapters that add receptacles, consider having an electrician add more outlets to your home. Extension cords are a common cause of home fires.

Read these additional Extension Cord Safety Tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

6. Keep your natural tree watered.

If you have a real Christmas tree water it to keep it fresh and safe. Natural trees can dry up and turn into kindling in no time at all. Properly dispose of the tree after Christmas. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage.

7. Remember to turn off all decorations.

Always turn off your decorations when you leave your home and when you’re sleeping. Most deadly fires happen while people are asleep.

How do you keep your Denver area home safe this winter?

Leave rewiring and installation projects to the pros! Any type of rewiring or new installations should be left to a professional as these projects most likely need to be done in compliance with the National Electrical Code to ensure it is done properly to avoid any potential hazards or problems with future electrical inspections.

Read more Consumer-Friendly Safety Tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

Follow our winter electrical safety tips and keep this holiday season about celebrations, fun, and family.

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