British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

December 14, 2009 09:00 ET

BC Safety Authority: Light Up Safely for the Holidays

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire – Dec. 14, 2009) - Two damaging home fires in BC around Christmas time last year serve as a stark reminder for everyone to be extra careful in handling and installing decorative lights and other electrical devices.

In both incidents, investigators believed that faulty wiring of the Christmas lights caused the fires.

"We'd like everyone to enjoy the holidays safely by being extra careful with all the added electrical activity in your homes," said Stephen Hinde, Electrical Safety Manager of the BC Safety Authority (BCSA). "Remember to install indoor and outdoor lights properly and use Canadian-approved products."

When setting up the lights and animated figures, the Safety Authority advises homeowners to do the following:

  • Ensure that your lights have safety approval certification. To see what these approvals look like, check the BCSA website at and follow this path: Safety Programs -- Electrical -- Information Bulletins -- Approved Certification Marks for Electrical Products.
  • Check decorations for cracked sockets and frayed or loose wires.
  • Outdoor lights that have been up year round will likely need to be replaced.
  • Keep lights out of the reach of small children.
  • Consider using LED lights. They save on energy and since they consume less power, they also produce less heat – which reduces the risk of fire.
  • Follow the manufacturer's directions in installing and using the decorations.

Avoid using extension cords, but if you must, here are some important reminders:

  • Make sure you're using the right type of cord for the location. There are different cords designed for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Outdoor cords must be plugged into a socket with a ground fault circuit interrupter, better known as GFCI. This device protects against electrical shock and have test and reset buttons to let users know if it's working properly. If not, get a BCSA-licensed contractor to fix the problem.
  • Make sure the cord is capable of handling the electrical requirements of all the devices you plan to connect to. These devices should indicate their amperage.
  • Check all cords to make sure that the cord ends are in good condition and that the cord itself isn't damaged.
  • Never run cords under rugs and carpets because people walking over them can cause damage. Do not run them through doorways, windows or holes in the wall where they can be pinched. Cords are made up of very thin wires which are bundled together. These wires are very fragile and can break if the extension cord is abused or improperly installed. When this happens, hot-spots occur inside the cord and may cause a fire. Keep the cords to the side where they can be avoided.
  • Never staple a cord or permanently attach it to a floor or wall.
  • Avoid octopus connections. Plugging a lot of cords into a wall outlet or into the end of an extension cord can be a fire hazard.
  • Do not force a three-pronged plug into a two-pronged outlet or cord.
  • Turn off all electrical light strings and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.

For more safety tips that you can download, print and share with your friends and family go to

The BC Safety Authority is an independent, self-funded organization that inspires safety excellence in British Columbia by collaborating with business, industry and the general public to enhance the safety of technical systems, products, equipment and work.

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