British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

December 08, 2010 09:00 ET

British Columbia Safety Authority: Safely Light Up Your House for the Holidays

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 8, 2010) - The last thing anyone wants for Christmas is a house fire which is why the BC Safety Authority (BCSA) is reminding homeowners to light up safely this season.

"Be extra careful in handling and installing decorative lights and other electrical devices," says BCSA Electrical Safety Manager, Stephen Hinde. "Faulty wiring of Christmas lights causes electrical hazards which can lead to serious property damage or even the death. As a start, remember to install indoor and outdoor lights properly and use Canadian-approved products."

If you have been wanting to transition from traditional incandescent Christmas lights to LED lights, there are two great reasons to start this season. Not only will LED lights save on energy and consume less power, they also produce less heat – which reduces the risk of fire.

According to Hinde, "You can prevent a fire in your home by discarding any decorations with cracked sockets, frayed or loose wires. Also, turn off all electrical lighting and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed."

The BC Safety Authority provides the following electrical safety tips for setting up your holiday lighting:

  • Ensure that your lights have safety approval certification.
  • 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 for installing and using any 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. 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.

The British Columbia Safety Authority keeps people safe by mandating the safe installation and use of technical equipment. BCSA also issues permits and licences, educates, and conducts on-site inspections in high-risk situations.

For more safety information visit the BCSA web site at

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