NEW ORLEANS—Thanksgiving weekend marks the official mad dash to Christmas. For many of us that means more than just shopping. It also means breaking out holiday decorations for the merry month that lies ahead.
Entergy New Orleans, Inc. wants you to keep the festivities from turning tragic by remembering some important holiday lighting safety tips.
"This is the time of year when we all come together to celebrate the season with our families and friends," said Melonie Hall, customer service director, Entergy New Orleans, Inc. "But it can also be a dangerous time if we don't remember to respect the power of electricity and take care to follow safety guidelines both inside our homes and outside."
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in the four years between 2003 and 2007, Christmas trees were to blame for an average of 250 home structure fires each year. Thirty-six percent of those fires occurred between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2. On average, one of every 18 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death.
Electrical issues were a factor in nearly half of those fires.
Problems with decorations that lead to fire are only part of the story. In each of those years, about 5,800 people per year were treated at hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations.
Following simple safety rules, however, can ensure the holiday season remains bright.
Inside lighting tips:
* If using a live tree, make sure it is fresh and green, with needles that are hard to pull from the branches.
* Place the tree in a stand with water, well away from heaters or the fireplace. Check water daily.
* Examine all lights before putting them on the tree or using them in other home decorations. Do not use lights with frayed wiring or loose sockets and make sure they have been tested for safety by an independent testing laboratory.
* For greater efficiency and safety, use smaller, cool-burning led lights.
* Make sure all light sockets have bulbs in them. Children are fascinated by lights and could put their fingers in empty sockets.
* Never burn candles on or near the tree and never use flammable decorations.
* Never use lights on a metallic tree. If the lights become faulty, the entire tree could be electrified.
* Be careful not to overload extension cords, outlets or even whole circuits in your house.
* Turn off decorative lighting when you leave the room.
Outside lighting tips:
* Make sure the lights you put up are designated for use out of doors.
* Use a dry, wooden ladder when working with strings of lights. Also, stay clear of all
* Do not replace bulbs when the electricity is on.
* Never let light bulbs touch flammable materials such as plastic or dry grass and leaves.
* For outside use, work only with three-wire grounded extension cords.
* 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.
* Turn outside Christmas light off when away from home or while sleeping.
Entergy New Orleans, Inc. is an electric and gas utility serving Orleans Parish and is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. The company provides electricity to more than 141,000 customers and natural gas to more than 92,000 customers in Orleans Parish.