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Holiday Safety Tips

Albemarle County wants to encourage everyone to be diligent and safe this year. Each year it is estimated that about 12,500 people go to hospital emergency rooms for falls, cuts, shocks and burns related to holiday decorating, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Typical injuries like electric shock or burns result from too many light strings strung end to end, low-wattage ornaments burning high-wattage bulbs or overloaded extension cords. Here are some things to keep in mind while you are decorating this year:

Extension Cords/Plugs:

  • Avoid overloading circuits with plugs and extension cords—this can create overheating and result in a fire.
  • Never remove the third prong on plugs—this "grounding pin" prevents shock in the event of electrical equipment failure.
  • Don't run extension cords under carpets, through doorways, or in places where they can be damaged by furniture.
  • Keep outdoor connections above-ground and out of puddles; don't run them across driveways and/or walkways.
  • Replace damaged electrical products (cords, plugs, ornaments).
  • Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) outlets when plugging in outdoors.
  • Avoid plugging too many lights and decorations into an outlet. Overloaded circuits can overheat and start a fire.

Installing Decorations:

  • No more than three light strings can be safely connected together in most cases—read manufactures instructions for directions.
  • Make sure bulbs don't touch supply cords, wires, cloth, paper, or any material that's not part of the light string.
  • Use the proper clips for securing lights and decorations. Staples and nails can damage electrical cords.
  • Holiday decorations aren't designed for year-round use and can deteriorate over time. Take them down when the holidays are over.

Remember to:

  • Watch that children don’t put electrical decorations or cords in their mouths.
  • Keep an eye on pets that may chew or damage electrical cords.
  • Turn off holiday lights and decorations when you leave the house or go to bed.

Indications of a Problem:

  • Smell of hot plastic or burning near socket
  • Sparks or smoke coming from a plug
  • Lights often flicker, blink or dim momentarily
  • Fuses that blow or circuit breakers that operate for no obvious reason
  • Blackness or scorch marks around a socket or plug
  • Cords or wall plates are warm to the touch or discolored

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