4 Top Tips to Keep You & Your Home Safe for the Holidays

What is the #1 cause of house fire?

The answer is electrical wiring. During the holiday season wiring to Christmas lights and trees are particularly dangerous. Some tips to keep you safe are:

  1. Carefully inspect light strings each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders, or loose connections.
  2. When replacing bulbs unplug the light string and match voltage and wattage to the original bulb.
  3. For exterior lights use only those rated for exterior use.
  4. Both interior and exterior lights should have an Underwriters’ Laboratory label.
  5. When connecting multiple strings of lights check how many can be safely strung together according to the manufacturers specifications or UL listing.
  6. When hanging outdoors lights keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from metal gutters and overhangs.
  7. Never connect more than one extension cord together. Don’t use extension cords that are too long. Never install an extension cord under a rug or near a heat source.
  8. Make sure each outlet you plug into is not overloaded.
  9. Always turn off lights when you leave the house or going to bed.

What is the #2 fire hazard?

Over 40% of all home fires are caused by defective heating equipment. If you haven’t already, you should schedule a tune up and safety check of the water heater, furnace or boiler before Christmas. Be sure the heat exchanger, the vent and flue are inspected. These are the primary causes of fire or CO poisoning.

Don’t forget to inspect both gas and wood burning fireplaces for condition and safe operation. Use a screen or glass door and never leave any fireplace unattended. Don’t burn gift wrappings, tissue, or evergreens in the fireplace.

#3 Keep your Christmas tree away from the fireplace, keep water in the base, and turn off the lights when you leave the home unattended.

#4 Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Enjoy this very special season!

Doug Hastings
MN Home Inspector, Minneapolis & St. Paul
ASHI certified inspector, ACI
Kaplan University, Home Inspection Lead Instructor

Rob ‘Pops’ Leslie
Kaplan Professionals, Retired