Keep the Holidays Merry and Bright by Decorating Safely

CPU provides safety tips to prevent electrical and fire hazards

The holidays wouldn’t be the same without twinkling lights and Christmas trees, but these favorite traditions can also create hazards. That’s why Clarksdale Public Utilities is sharing tips to help customers decorate safely and prevent accidents and injuries.

"Brightening our community with holiday lights is a great tradition, but we urge everyone to be aware of their surroundings to avoid electrical hazards and to prevent fires,” said Curtis D. Boschert, CPU general manager. “Taking a few extra steps to keep homes and families safe can definitely lead to more joyful celebrations."

Christmas trees are the leading cause of house fires during the holidays. The National Fire Protection Association reports that between 2013 and 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires annually that started with Christmas trees. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment were involved in 44 percent of Christmas tree fires.

The simplest way to avoid Christmas tree fires is to 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.

Additional tips to avoid electrical and fire hazards include:

  • 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 are not safe, 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.
“CPU encourages customers to always practice electrical safety, not just during the holidays but throughout the year,” Boschert said. “We hope all of our customers have 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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