Starkville Utilities Urges Respect for Electricity When Decorating

Keep safety at the top of your list this holiday season

With the holidays fast approaching, thoughts are turning to decking the halls and spending time with family and friends. As you begin making your list and checking it twice, Starkville Utilities reminds you to keep safety at the top.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles. And more than two of every five holiday fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source, such as a fireplace.

“Whether you like to decorate early in the season or closer to Christmas, it is important to respect electricity at all times,” said Edward Kemp, Starkville Utilities general manager. "Following a few simple guidelines can help ensure that you and your family stay safe and are able to make happy memories with those you care about.”

Check out these helpful tips:


  • Inspect lights and decorations for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs and bulbs. If cords and plugs are old or damaged, discard and replace them. Modern lights are designed to prevent sparks in the event of a short circuit.
  • Buy only UL-listed products when shopping for lights, electric decorations and cords.
  • 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.
  • Never overload extension cords and wall outlets. Know the wattage rating of extension cords and the power requirements of lights and decorations plugged into them. Every so often, check Christmas light wires to make sure they are not warm to the touch.
  • Never place cords under rugs and doors or through windows where they might be pinched or become worn.
  • Keep children safe by making sure all light sockets have bulbs in them.
  • Never leave lights on unattended. Always turn off all lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.


  • If you prefer a live tree, make sure it is fresh when purchased and kept well-watered. Once a tree dries out, it is no longer safe to keep indoors.
  • Consider investing in an artificial tree made with fire-resistant materials.
  • 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.
  • Never burn candles on or near the tree and never use flammable decorations. Consider using flameless candles instead.


  • When decorating outdoors, use lights and decorations that are rated for outdoor use. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Reduce your risk of electric shock by using ladders made of non-conductive materials like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.
  • Turn off the electricity before replacing bulbs.
  • Never let light bulbs touch flammable materials such as dry grass and leaves.
  • Work only with three-wire grounded extension cords for outside use.
  • Use rubber gaskets in light sockets or hang sockets downward to keep water out.
  • Keep connections and lights off the ground by hanging them over wooden stakes.

For more on holiday safety, check out this helpful brochure from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.

We are a Water and Electric Utilities Company in Starkville