British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

November 24, 2008 09:00 ET

British Columbia Safety Authority: Light Up Your Holidays Safely

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 24, 2008) - It's that time of year again when decorating the Christmas tree and hanging up those twinkling lights gets everyone in the mood for the holidays.

The BC Safety Authority (BCSA) wants everyone to enjoy a safe holiday season by handling and installing decorative lights and other electrical devices properly.

"The holidays see a lot of these indoor and outdoor lights going up. But if installed incorrectly or unsafely, or with non-Canadian approved products, then these have been known to cause fires," said Stephen Hinde, Electrical Safety Manager of the BCSA. "We need to be extra careful with all the added electrical activity in our homes."

When setting up the lights and animated figures, the Safety Authority advises 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.

- 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 licensed electrician 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. There should be someone to mind these devices in case something goes wrong.

For more safety tips that you can download, print and share with your friends and family go to and follow this path: Safety Information - Public Safety Tips - BCSA 10 Safety Tips.

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

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