Deck the halls with boughs of safety

Posted on Oct 26 2020 in Safety
Lady decorating a tree

When Ralphie Parker’s dad attempts to plug his glorious but tragically fra-gee-lee “Italian” leg lamp into an overloaded wall outlet in the holiday movie classic “A Christmas Story,” there first came a “snap of a few sparks” and the “whiff of ozone” before the lamp blazed forth in the front window.

While that’s a funny movie scene, those at your electric cooperative want to remind you overloaded circuits and sparks are never funny, especially this time of year. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, one of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. And though not common, Christmas tree fires are more serious than typical home fires. One of every 31 reported Christmas tree fires results in a death. 

“This is such a beautiful and special time of year,” said John Gasstrom, CEO at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “It’s always tragic to hear of home fires and loss of life, especially when it’s caused by something like a Christmas tree or holiday decorations meant to bring joy and celebration.”  

Here are some things to keep in mind when decorating your home for the holidays:

  • If you decorate with a real tree, make sure it’s fresh. Needles should not drop or come off easily. 
  • When you get your tree home, cut a few inches off the bottom of the trunk and immediately place the tree in water, even if you do not yet intend to decorate it.  
  • Make sure the tree is watered daily throughout the holiday.
  • Decorate the tree with LED lights that do not get hot and use 75% to 90% less electricity for the same amount of light.
  • With any light set, carefully inspect each light and the cord. Cracked and loose bulbs and frayed or bare wires can shock or start a fire.
  • Follow the manufacturer instructions on how many strands can be connected together. It differs based on the type of light.

Obviously, Ralphie made it to adulthood to look back warmly on that Christmas he got a BB gun in “A Christmas Story.” And even though he almost shot his eye out and the neighbor’s hounds ate their turkey, at least the Parkers were not displaced, or something worse, by the old man’s overloaded outlets.