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Dominion offers tips for making safety a welcome guest for the holidays

Dominion provides electrical safety tips
Follow electrical safety tips while decorating your house with lights

Dominion offers electrical safety tips for home electrical safety.

Look up, down, all around before stringing lights, decorations. Inspect lights and discard if frayed, cracked or otherwise damaged. No more than three standard-sized light sets per extension cord.

Holiday lighting can endow homes with warmth, grace and festivity to enhance the spirit of the season. To keep holidays happy, Dominion Virginia Power reminds customers to keep safety in mind when installing and enjoying decorations.

"Safety is a gift that should be given and received throughout the year when working with electrical decorations and electricity, both indoors and outside," said Jerry Beverage, Dominion director of electrical safety and training. "This holiday season often involves outdoor lighting and the risks associated with installing electrical decorations, making it especially important to take safety precautions.

"It is important to look up, down and all around to identify electrical wires before beginning to install outdoor decorations. Make sure not to move or use a ladder anywhere near power lines, and be sure to contact Miss Utility of Virginia by calling 811 or 1-800-552-7001 at least 3 working days before beginning any digging project," Beverage said.

Follow these tips when buying and using holiday lights:

  • Look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety-certification label. On holiday lights, it's silver with a holographic image.
  • Check last season's lights carefully and discard them if wires are frayed, cracked or otherwise damaged, or if they have loose connections or broken sockets.
  • Inspect lights and discard if frayed, cracked or otherwise damaged

    Keep small bulbs and fuses away from young children because they can pose a serious choking hazard.
  • Replace all broken or missing bulbs.
  • Don't plug more than three standard-sized sets of lights into a single extension cord. Any more can put too much of an electrical load on the cord, posing a fire risk.
  • If you're putting lights on a live, indoor holiday tree, water the tree daily to make sure it doesn't dry out.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers "Holiday Decoration Safety Tips". These tips include:

  • If you buy a live tree, check for its freshness. Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent. The cut end of the tree is sticky with resin.
  • Place a live tree away from a fireplace, radiator or heat vent, since heat could dry out the tree. Cut about two inches off the trunk so that the tree absorbs water better, and place the tree in a sturdy stand kept filled with water. Don't leave the tree up longer than two weeks.
  • If you buy an artificial tree, look for a statement that the tree is fire resistant.
  • Inspect electrical cords for frayed wires or other signs of wear. Check wires periodically. Wires should not be warm to the touch.
  • Do not leave holiday lights or candles unattended. Many more sources of safety information are available online.
  • The National Fire Protection Association reports that electrical problems were a factor in nearly half (45 percent) of all Christmas tree fires at homes.
  • The Virginia Department of Fire Programs offers a brochure on Christmas tree, menorah and kinara safety.

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