Safe ways to set up your home

Safe ways to set up your home

(NAPS)-Heeding a few hints from the experts at the Electrical Safety Foundation International can help you have a beautiful home for the holidays and a safer and happier new year:
* If you are purchasing new decorations, shop only at reputable retailers that you trust.
* Make sure your decorations have been approved for safe use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
* Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany your decorations.
* Carefully inspect each electrical decoration and extension cord before use; discard any damaged items. Cracked sockets, bare or frayed wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or fire.
* Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together to make a longer string.
* Consider getting LED lights, which use less power and burn cooler than traditional incandescents, allowing you to safely connect more sets.
* Avoid overloading electrical outlets, which can overheat and start a fire.
* Don't pinch cords in windows or doorways or under heavy furniture.
* Keep cords out of walkways and high-traffic areas.
* If you get a live Christmas tree, check it for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and is less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.
* Heated rooms dry out even fresh trees quickly. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water.
* For artificial trees, look for a "fire-resistant" label.
* Put the tree at least three feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces and space heaters.
* Decorate your tree with non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.
* Avoid using candles when possible. Consider using battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles.
* When decorating outside, make sure all decorations and extension cords are marked for outdoor use.
* Always use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected outlet outdoors.
* Exercise extreme caution when decorating near overhead power lines. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder instead of metal. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet from power lines.
* Outdoor extension cords and lights should be kept clear of standing water and snow.
* Remember to turn off and unplug all decorations before leaving home or turning in for the night.
Learn more at http://holidaysafety.org or (703) 841-3229.
Photo Credit: (c)iStockphoto.com/track5