‘Tis the Season for Safety!

CPU shares tips for happy, healthy holidays

The holidays are a time of sparkling lights, twinkling trees and festive celebrations. Since many seasonal activities are powered by electricity, Clarksdale Public Utilities is reminding customers to decorate safely and avoid electrical and fire hazards.

“We want to help customers enjoy the holidays safely,” said Curtis D. Boschert, CPU general manager. “It is easy to understand why fires, falls and electrical shocks increase during the holiday season. We encourage customers to review CPU’s safety reminders, because being aware and proactive is the best strategy to prevent injuries and accidents.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that on average, there are around 160 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with almost half involving falls.

To prevent falls, use a ladder when decorating hard-to-reach spaces and position it on a firm, even surface. Never stand on furniture. When hanging lights outdoors, reduce your risk of electric shock by using ladders made of non-conductive materials like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

The CPSC also reports that from 2016 to 2018, there were about 100 Christmas tree fires and 1,100 candle fires in November and December each year, resulting in 30 deaths, 180 injuries and nearly $56 million in annual property loss.

Customers can avoid Christmas tree fires by investing in artificial trees made with fire-resistant materials. If using a live tree, make sure it is fresh when purchased and has plenty of water. Once a tree dries out, it is no longer safe to keep indoors and should be removed immediately.

CPU encourages customers to follow these additional tips to avoid electrical and fire hazards:

  • 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% less electricity.
  • Avoid using electric lights on metallic trees. The tree could easily become charged with electricity and deliver a shock if touched.
  • Keep light bulbs from resting on tree needles and branches. Use a clip or twist-tie to keep bulbs upright.
  • 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.
  • Refrain from placing cords under rugs and doors or through windows where they might be pinched or become worn.
  • Keep decorations at least 3 feet from heat sources, especially those with an open flame, such as fireplaces and candles.
  • Place lit candles well out of the way of flammable materials like curtains or wrapping paper. Considering using flameless candles instead.
  • 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.
  • Keep phones and tablets on your nightstand—overheated electronics under pillows and blankets are dangerous.
  • Ensure there is a smoke alarm in each bedroom, outside of sleeping areas and on every level, including the basement.

For more tips, visit Electrical Safety Foundation International at

“It is wise to make electrical safety a priority during the holidays and throughout the year,” Boschert said. “We wish all of our customers a safe and happy holiday season.”

Clarksdale Public Utilities is a municipally owned utility serving approximately 6,800 homes and businesses in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Its mission is to safely provide sustainable electric, water and wastewater services in a reliable and courteous manner by well-trained team members, committed to top quality, efficient operations, competitive rates and the vitality of the community.

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For more than 125 years, Clarksdale Public Utilities has supplied utility services that support our community’s growth, vibrance and quality of life. But we are more than a provider of reliable and affordable electric, water and wastewater services — we are your family, friends and neighbors. We are people who care. We are CPU.

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