Hidden hazards to keep in mind this season

(BPT) – As we head into the coldest months, it’s important to ensure both your indoor and outdoor decorations are safe and securely assembled. These items are often overlooked around your home during the season and they can cause very serious hazards, including fires. U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 357,000 home fires per year between 2009-2013, causing 2,470 deaths and $6.9 billion in damage, according to the NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association). That’s why it’s important to check your lights and heating systems for any faults while also installing preventative measures to keep you and your family safe.

The following safety tips for inside and outside of your home to keep your family safe this season:

Outdoor hazard prevention

It’s important to make sure your outdoor décor can safely withstand harsh elements like rain and snow. By following the precautions below, one can avoid outdoor fire hazards and ensure décor remains intact all season long.

* Ensure all extension cords and electrical decorations used for outdoor decorating are marked for outdoor use.
* Outdoor decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). If circuits are not GFCI-protected, portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold and are simple to install.
* Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors. Metal ladders conduct electricity.
* Exercise caution when decorating near power lines. Keep yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet away from them.
* Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or extension cords. They can overheat and cause a fire.
* Make sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows, or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord’s insulation.

Indoor hazard prevention

The busy kitchen activities and rooms lit by candles can also lead to a variety of fire hazards this winter season. That’s why it’s important to consider preventative measures for outlets, like Leviton’s SmartlockPro AFCI Outlet, which can detect a wide range of arcing electrical faults caused by plugged in lights or devices. Once an AFCI Outlet detects an arcing fault, it immediately shuts off power to help prevent potential ignition of a fire. These are important to have in living areas like bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens to protect homeowners from unexpected electrical hazards.

A few ways other ways to avoid the risk of electrical fires indoors include the following:

* Consider purchasing LED lights, which use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent lights.
* Similar to outdoor use, consider replacing standard outlets with Tamper-Resistant (TR) Outlets, which are designed for child safety. TR Outlets have a shutter mechanism inside the outlet which blocks access to the contacts unless a two-prong plug is inserted.
* Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use. Space heaters are temporary and should only be used for a limited time each day.
* Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord or power strip. Do not plug anything else into the same outlet while a space heater is in use. Do not use space heaters with frayed or damaged cords.

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