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Detroit Edison's safety tips on holiday lights and decoration

Decoration lights must be used with proper care to avoid accidents.
The Underwriters Laboratory label must be checked before stringing lights and other decorations

It is important to read the safety, use and care instructions of electrical holiday decorations currently on the market.

With the holiday season under way, Detroit Edison reminds customers that a quick check of electric lights and decorations before installation can provide peace of mind and a safe holiday season.

"Safety should be the first priority when installing holiday lights," said Larry Kaufman, DTE Energy's energy efficiency expert. "Just because lights worked effectively last year does not mean that they shouldn't be inspected this year. A few minutes spent checking cords and plugs for potential hazards reduce the possibility of a fire."

Every year, tragedy strikes during the holiday season when house fires start because of faulty or damaged electrical cords and improper use of electrical outlets and electrical decorations. Home decorators should use lights only as directed by the manufacturer. Lights should be thrown away if they have frayed wires, damaged sockets or cracked or missing insulation.

Check for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label before stringing lights and setting up other decorations. This label indicates the product has been tested by UL engineers for foreseeable safety hazards such as fire and electric shock. Remember also to check the color of the UL label. Indoor-use only light strings are marked with the UL's green holographic label, and light strings for indoor and outdoor use have the UL's red holographic label.

With so many different types of electrical holiday decorations currently on the market, it is important to read the safety, use and care instructions provided with each holiday lighting package and store these instructions with the decorations for reference the following year.

Seasonal lighting is an inexpensive way to put a sparkle in the holidays. Most lights cost from less than one cent to 7.5 cents per string to operate for six hours, depending on the wattage. For lights that blink on and off, the cost is halved. New LED holiday lights are on the market now that can cut lighting costs even more.

Every year there are a lot of accidents during the winter holiday season causing damage to life and property

ENERGY STAR qualified light strings consume 75 percent less energy and can last 10 times longer than conventional incandescent light strands.

"Decorative LED lights are safer, too," noted Kaufman. "They're cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire, and have no moving parts, filaments or glass, so they're much more durable and shock-resistant than other light strings."

Detroit Edison offers these additional tips for keeping the holidays safe:

Indoor Lighting

  • Do not overload electrical circuits.
  • Do not use more than three sets of standard lights on each extension cord.
  • Do not insert new bulbs or change fuses when light sets are plugged in.
  • Keep lights away from carpeting, furniture and drapes.
  • Turn off decorative lights before you go to bed or leave home.
  • Make sure household smoke detectors are working properly.

Outdoor Lighting

  • When hanging lights around your roofline or in trees, be sure to survey the area for overhead power lines and maintain at least a 20-foot distance.
  • Use only outdoor extension cords with molded plugs and sockets.
  • Keep all electrical connections off the ground and hang sockets downward to prevent water from seeping into them.
  • Do not run electrical cords through door or window openings where they can be damaged.
  • For added protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).

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