Don’t let holiday lights short circuit electric safety


PAINESVILLE, Ohio – From icicle lights hanging down from the roof to elaborate lawn decorations, more and more families are decorating with festive holiday lights.

But are they taking the necessary precautions so no one is thrown for a loop by a frayed extension cord or a damaged wire on a strand of lights?

As protection from potential electrical hazards, plug all outdoor holiday lights into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. This receptacle provides personal protection from electrical shocks.

The interrupter receptacles are now required whenever an electrical outlet is within 6 feet of water. That is why they’re installed in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages and outdoors.

Older homes – even those built 20 years ago – may not have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacles, inside or out.

The receptacles should have two buttons on them, marked “test” and “reset.”

Extension cord. Another option is to purchase an inexpensive extension cord set that has a built-in Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacle.

First plug the interrupter cord set into the outdoor outlet, and then plug the other extension cords and holiday lights into the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter cord set.

The cord sets are available at hardware stores and home centers. They cost about $25.

One other safety precaution: It is important to test the receptacle before plugging in holiday lights to make sure it is still providing protection.

They should be checked once month.


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