December 1995 Edition

Is Your Home Safe

This issue of Home Tips will be dedicated to safety in the home. With the upcoming Christmas season, safety risks are increased due to the many Christmas decorations. The following are some ideas to keep your home safe: 

1. Decorations And Candles

All decorations should be noncombustible or flame retardant and not placed near heat or electrical sources. Keep candles away from flammable material such as curtains, etc. And place them where they cannot be knocked over. Keep candles out of reach of small children. Be sure to blow out candles when you leave your home or go to sleep.


2. Christmas Trees

Place trees away from fireplaces, radiators, space heaters and other heat sources. See that it does not block doorways or traffic. Fill the base holder with water on a daily basis. Remember, heated rooms rapidly dry out threes. Dispose of the tree when a lot of needles fall. This indicates the tree is too dry and an extreme fire hazard. When in doubt, throw it out!  Be sure plastic trees are made of fire resistant material. Keep them away from heat sources too.


3. Christmas Lights               

Make sure the lights you use are labeled “UL-listed”. Lights rated for outdoor use can be used indoors or outdoors, but do not use lights rated for indoor use outside. All UL-listed indoor light sets will have a green UL label and outside light sets have a red one.           

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions that have come with your holiday decorations.           

Replace any electrical decorations that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections.           

When hanging light sets around the outside of your house, use only plastic electrical staples to hold the wires in place. Do not use nails or metal staples.           

Do not run too many lights on one circuit. A typical 15 amp household circuit can handle up to 1,400 watts. Do not forget that anything already running on the circuit counts in the total watts. The packaging the lights come in will give you the number of watts per light or light set. If you do not have the package, check the tag on the light string.

Do not leave the lights on when you go to bed or leave your house.           

If you still have the large lights that get very hot, consider replacing them with the miniature lights that do not get as hot (you will save on your electric bill too).           

When you run extension cords outside, make sure they’re rated for outdoor use and that none of the plugs are lying on the ground. Connections that are lying on the ground could allow moisture inside, causing a short.            

When you decorate the tree with lights and decorations be sure the main extension cord you use is large enough to carry the load. Do not plug four or five light cords into an extension cord that is the same or smaller size because you will overload the capacity of the cord. Always try to use a larger size or gage cord. If you’re not sure if it is adequate, just touch the cord after it has been in use for 20 to 30 minutes and feel if the cord is warm or hot to the touch. If it is, then you will need to replace it with a larger gage extension cord. The undersized wire could heat up enough to melt the insulation and cause a fire. Home centers carry heavy gage extension cords. You may need to purchase a 14 gage or even the heavy 12 gage extension cord. 

4. Fireplaces

Remove all decorations, boughs and paper from the fireplace area and hearth before lighting a fire. Check to see that the flue is open and periodically check to see that the chimney flue is clean. Always keep the screen in place while the fire is burning. If your fireplace does not have a screen, buy one. Never use the fireplace as an incinerator to burn gift wrapping paper or evergreen boughs. These can burn suddenly and rapidly, throwing off sparks or traveling up and out of the chimney flue possibly landing on the roof and starting a fire.


5. Safety Items

While you are thinking about safety, it would be a good idea to check all of the smoke detectors in the house. Some are wired into the electrical system and some are battery operated. If they fail to work, replace the battery or the entire unit.


Also, go around the house and test all GFCI  outlets or GFCI panel breakers to be sure they trip and   reset.  


If you are using exterior Christmas lights and do not have GFCI outlets installed on the exterior outlets, install them. They are only around $10.00 and they will protect you from faulty wiring or electrical shorts. Such a small investment that someday could save your life.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.


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Thought For The Season

Christmas began in the heart of God.

It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.

A Tip Of The Hat To:

All The People That

Referred Us In 1995

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