Holiday safety tips: Electrical outlets to candles, live trees to decorative lights

The holiday season is here. As people “deck the halls” and make other merry preparations, the United Illuminating Co. and Electrical Safety Foundation International offer the following safety tips for this time of the year:

1. Inspect all electrical decorations for damage before use. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires and loose connections may cause a serious shock or can start a fire.

2. Do not overload electrical outlets. Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are a common cause of holiday fires. Only plug one high-wattage appliance into each outlet.

3. Be mindful of how many strings of incandescent lights are connected together when decorating the tree.  More than three strands may not only trip a circuit breaker, but also can cause a fire.

4. Check decorations for certification label. Decorations not bearing a label from an independent testing laboratory may not have been thoroughly tested for safety and could be hazardous.

5. Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations used for outdoor decorating are marked for outdoor use.

Water the tree

6. If using a live tree, keep it fresh by watering daily. Dry trees are a serious fire hazard.

7. Use battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles in menorahs and other holiday displays.

8. Protect electrical cords from damage. To avoid shock or fire hazards, cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors or windows, placed under rugs, located near heat sources, or attached by nails or staples.

Watch what’s on the stove

9. Stay in the kitchen when something is cooking. Unattended cooking equipment is a frequent cause of home cooking fires. Keep a functional fire extinguisher handy.

10. Turn off and unplug the decorations when going to sleep or leaving the house.

11. Do not use your oven or stovetop for heating purposes.

12. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Make sure they have fresh batteries and are functioning properly.

About UI and its parent firm

The United Illuminating Co. provides electrical service to Shelton and other towns in Fairfield and New Haven counties. It is part of New Haven-based UIL Holdings Corp., which also includes the Southern Connecticut Gas Co., Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., and Berkshire Gas Co. of  Massachusetts.

UIL Holdings Corp. has more than 700,000 electric and natural gas utility customers, and employs over 1,850 people.