Utility Providers List Holiday Light Safety and Energy Use Savings

Helpful holiday safety and energy savings tips around Los Angeles from Southern California Edison and the LADWP.

As families prepare for the holidays, Southern California Edison reminded people to use common-sense precautions with decorative lights to prevent shocks and fire hazards.

"The joy that festive decorations bring can lead people to overlook their potential dangers," said Bill Messner, the utility's health and safety manager. "It is vital that families follow instructions, inspect decorations and practice safety to minimize the risk of electric shock, fires or injuries."

Firefighters nationwide respond to an average of 230 home fires annually that start with Christmas trees, resulting in an average of six deaths, 22 injuries and $18.3 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

About 5,800 people are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations, with more than half of them falling from ladders or roofs while decorating outdoors, the fire association said.

SCE recommended these safety tips for the holidays:

  • Never place lights closer than 10 feet from outdoor power lines, and always be aware of the power lines
  • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when decorating outdoors because metal ladders conduct electricity;
  • Always inspect your ladder to ensure it is safe
  • Be sure that electrical cords are not plugged in an angle or a positioned where they can be pinched, such as in windows
  • Use zip cords instead of metal staples, tack or nails to hang lights
  • Use no more than three strands of lights per extension cord because overloads can cause fires or lines to short-circuit
  • Keep lights away from carpeting, furniture, drapes and other flammable materials
  • Use decorations bearing the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Intertek (ETL) labels; and
  • Always unplug decorative lights when leaving home or before going to bed.

More safety tips are available at www.sce.com/holidaylighting.

For energy savings, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power provides a few simple ways to keep electricity costs down while having a safe and festive holiday season:
  • Use LED holiday lights, which last longer and use about 70% less energy than incandescent light strings both indoors and outside. For extra savings, install a timer and set your holiday lights to automatically turn on and off at specific times.
  • In the kitchen, use the right size pot for each stove burner and check the progress of dishes in the oven by using the oven light instead of opening the door, which allows heat to escape and wastes energy.
  • Cold outside? Snuggle under blankets instead of turning up the heat.
  • Turn down your thermostat when guests come over, since all those people in your house will keep it warm.
  • Set your thermostat to 68 degrees all winter if your health permits and you’ll see huge savings.
  • Install an programmable thermostat for your heater and program it with an energy savings schedule.
  • Insulate your home this winter by sealing up cracks and plugging leaks to prevent heat from escaping through windows and doors. Take advantage of LADWP rebates for energy efficient windows and whole house energy retrofits.
  • Turn off your outdoor and indoor holiday lights when you’re not home. This is also a good safety precaution to prevent an electrical fire.
  • Use a power strip for electronics and holiday lights, and turn it off when not in use.
For more energy-saving tips from LADWP, click here.


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