Finding Holiday Joy Doesn’t Mean Sacrificing Safety

Starkville Utilities provides tips to help prevent electrical and fire hazards

It’s 2020. And that means everyone could use a little extra holiday cheer. In fact, some residents are already unpacking the ornaments and lights, and filling their homes with the sounds of joyful music and movies.

But whether you’ve embraced this early decorating trend, or remain firm in waiting until after Thanksgiving, it’s important to keep safety - especially electrical safety - at top of mind.

“With so much going on around us and everyone spending more time at home, it’s only natural to want to bring out the things that make the holidays special,” said Terry Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “But in doing so, please remember to follow all recommended manufacturer’s guidelines so you and your family stay safe.”

Christmas trees are a major cause of house fires during the holidays. The National Fire Protection Association reports that more than one of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.

But by implementing safety measures both inside and out, you and your family can rest easy as you gear up for the season. Starkville Utilities recommends these simple steps:

  • Invest in an artificial tree made with fire-resistant materials, which are safer to light and decorate. If real trees are preferred, make sure they are fresh when purchased and kept well-watered. Once a tree dries out, it is no longer safe to keep indoors and should be removed immediately.
  • Buy only UL-listed products when shopping for lights, electric decorations and extension cords. If decorating outdoors, use lights and decorations that are rated for outdoor use.
  • Inspect lights and decorations for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs and bulbs. If cords and plugs are damaged, discard and replace the decoration. Also get rid of old lights. Modern lights have fused plugs to prevent sparks in the event of a short circuit.
  • Consider using safer LED lights instead of incandescent lights. LED lights produce very little heat, last up to 25 times longer and use 75 percent less electricity.
  • Avoid using electric lights on metallic trees. The tree could easily become charged with electricity and deliver a shock if touched.
  • Do not allow light bulbs to rest on tree needles and branches. Use a clip or twist-tie to keep bulbs upright.
  • Do not overload extension cords and wall outlets. Know the wattage rating of extension cords and the power requirements of lights and decorations plugged into them. Use only three light strands per outlet and consider using a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker instead for added protection.
  • Never place cords under rugs and doors or through windows where they might be pinched or become worn.
  • When hanging lights outdoors, reduce your risk of electric shock by using ladders made of non-conductive materials like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.
  • Candles should not be left unattended, especially if you have children or pets who are prone to accidentally knocking things over. Place lit candles well out of the way of flammable materials like curtains or wrapping paper. Considering using flameless candles instead.
  • Never leave lights on unattended. Always turn off all lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house. Every so often, check Christmas light wires to make sure they are not warm to the touch.
“We urge customers to always practice electrical safety, not just during the holidays but year-round,” Kemp added. “As we wind down this challenging year, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.”

Starkville Utilities is a municipally owned and operated electric and water utility, serving more than 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville as well as the state’s largest institution of higher learning, Mississippi State University.

We are a Water and Electric Utilities Company in Starkville