Don't overlook safety of holiday guestsCelebrations, family gatherings, and houseguests traditionally increase in number during the winter holiday season. Unfortunately, statistics show that incidents of home fires and accidents typically increase this time of year as well.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
Celebrations, family gatherings, and houseguests traditionally increase in number during the winter holiday season. Unfortunately, statistics show that incidents of home fires and accidents typically increase this time of year as well.
According to a recent consumer survey conducted by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), nearly 60 percent of people plan to host guests in their homes this holiday season. While festive decorations and savory food may seem like the most important aspects of holiday entertaining, don’t overlook the safety of your guests.
Otter Tail Power Company offers these tips to help ensure that your home is ready for the activities the holiday season brings:
Share your fire escape plan, including your outside meeting place, with your overnight guests. Everyone should know at least two ways out of each room in your home.
Make sure your stairs, hallways, and entries are properly lighted and keep them free of clutter and other objects that could hinder escape during a fire emergency.
Use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms.
Consider having older guests or those with mobility issues sleep on the ground floor.
Discard decorations with worn or frayed electrical cords, broken or cracked sockets, damaged plugs, or loose connections.
To reduce the chance of electrical shock, use a fiberglass ladder when putting up and taking down holiday lights and be sure to stay clear of overhead electrical wires.
Fasten outdoor lights securely to protect them from wind damage. Never yank, kink, or bend electrical cords or hang them from nails. Don’t nail or staple through electrical cords. Cracking the insulation around the wiring could lead to shock or electrical fire.
Avoid overloading electrical outlets, which can overheat and cause fires. Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord or outlet.
Use LED holiday lights instead of incandescent light strands. LED lights are safer, resistant to shock and vibration, use less electricity, allow more strings to be connected together, and can last 50 times longer than incandescent lights.
Make sure extension cords are in good repair and are properly sized for the electrical load. Extension cords used with outdoor decorations must be rated for outdoor use.
Use only weatherproof electrical devices for outside activities and protect them from moisture.
Make sure electrical decorations bear labels indicating that they have been tested by independent agencies, such as Underwriters Laboratories. A green UL label rates them for indoor use only. A red UL label indicates that they are suitable for outdoor and indoor use.
Turn off and unplug all electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.
Keep young visitors in mind
Consider turning down your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of scalding.
Install tamper-resistant receptacles to prevent electrical shocks and burns, or use safety covers on all unused outlets that are accessible to children.
Never allow children to play with electrical decorations or cords.
“It’s important to keep safety in mind while preparing for this exciting and extremely busy time of year,” says Otter Tail Power Company Safety Services Manager Ryan Smith. “We remind everyone to exercise good judgment. A proactive approach to safety will help you give the gift of safety to your family and friends this holiday season.”
Otter Tail Power Company, a subsidiary of Otter Tail Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select Market: OTTR), is headquartered in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It provides electricity and energy services to more than a quarter million people in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. To learn more about Otter Tail Power Company visit www.otpco.com. To learn more about Otter Tail Corporation visit www.ottertail.com.