There a few things you can count on every holiday season: ugly sweaters, festive drinks and decorations that light up the neighbourhood. As you pull on your favourite cardigan, pour yourself a peppermint eggnog and prepare to dig through boxes of ornaments, remember there are simple steps we can all take to make the most dazzling time of year safer and more energy efficient.
Easy tips for a safe and energy-efficient season
Whether you prefer a bright, colourful display, classic white lights, or anything in between, here are some easy tips to keep your home, business and loved ones safe this year:
Before you get lit
- Look for ENERGY STAR® certified LED lights: They use 70-90 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, last at least 15 times longer, and meet strict quality and efficiency standards. They’ll also save you money in the long run.
- Check your old decorations twice: Even your old favourites have a shelf life. Look them over and keep an eye out for damage, like fraying cords, exposed wires or cracked bulb holders. Toss anything that may pose a hazard.
- Spot the official certification mark: Make sure any new products you buy are certified by an accredited organization, and comply with safety and performance standards. Also, double-check you’re buying for indoor or outdoor use, as appropriate, and don’t exceed the recommended wattage.
Know when to pull the plug
- Only you can prevent outlet fires: Stay safe over the holidays by resisting the urge to connect multiple extension cords together. Instead, use one that’s long enough to reach the outlet. Also, double-check package instructions before you hit the ‘on’ switch. Most importantly, always keep a fire extinguisher handy and your smoke detectors in good working order in case of an emergency.
- Remember, less is more: Similarly, try not to overwhelm your outlets with too many decorations. Instead of plugging all your lights into one spot, use a power bar as a safe alternative.
- Don’t be afraid of the dark: Resist the urge to keep your holiday lights on around the clock. Lights can short out and start a fire, so turn them off when you go out or hit the hay. An easy way to stay safe is to use indoor and outdoor timers that will automatically switch lights on and off without you ever having to remember.
Practice safety first
- Avoid dangerous shocks: When putting up outdoor lights, make sure your ladder is at least three metres away from any overhead power lines to avoid electrocution! Also, use outlets that are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to protect you from getting shocked when it’s damp outside.
- Stay dry in wet conditions: When stringing up your outdoor lights, keep connections away from metal rain gutters, off the ground and out of puddles. Insulated tape and plastic clips (rather than staples or nails) will help secure them safely and effectively.
- Protect those who are most vulnerable: Kids and pets are very attracted to pretty lights, so you’ll have to keep an eye on them. Make sure they don’t put cords or bulbs in their mouths, and avoid running lights across walkways so they don’t trip.
Looking for an easy way to keep electrical safety top of mind this year? Keep this Holiday Shopping Checklist on hand as a quick reference.
From all of us at Alectra, wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!