Holiday Safety Tips to Consider
Scott Bohn – Disaster Preparedness Committee
The holiday season is a magical time filled with family gatherings, traditions, decor, and food. Holiday celebrations can lead to accidents (or worse) if you're not careful. Here are a few suggestions to keep your family safe and healthy through the New Year.
- Electrical circuit safety - The National Electrical Code® (NEC®) requires that each residential kitchen has at least two 20-amp 120-volt circuits. Typical roaster ovens draw 10-12 amps, hot plates draw 8-12 amps, and crockpots draw 2-6 amps. One suggestion is to determine which kitchen plugs are on what circuit and split the appliances up accordingly.
- Extension cord and multi-outlet splitter safety - Extension cords and multi-outlet splitters are never a good idea in the kitchen. Aside from electrical hazards, they also provide tripping hazards and can hang from counters where a child may be able to grab and pull an appliance down on themselves. Extension cords and multi-outlet splitters are easier to overload than electrical circuit wiring and do not offer over-current protection to trip and tell you they are overloaded, like an electrical circuit does. A standard 13-amp light-duty extension cord plugged into a 20-amp circuit could be well overloaded without the circuit ever tripping.
- Ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) – The NEC requires that all kitchens have GFCI protection. GFCI protection should always be utilized for appliances placed on kitchen countertops. Not having the necessary GFCI protection is another reason to not use extension cords. GFCI receptacles should also be tested to ensure they are working properly before each use.
- Don't overdo it on the lights- Never connect more than three strands of lights into one series. Always look for the UL symbol when buying electrical items and pay attention to its color: Green approved for indoor use and red approved for indoors and outdoors. If you're using old lights, check the wires for signs of fraying or cracking. Unplug all indoor lights when you leave the house.
- Your tree is a fire risk — even if it's fake - Keep trees at least three feet away from all heat sources (like fireplaces, radiators, and heat vents). If you have a real tree, remember to keep it watered; the drier the tree, the more easily it could ignite. Choose a stand sturdy enough that it won’t tip over and can hold one quart of water per inch of the stem's diameter.
- Candles are pretty, but they're still open flames - December is the peak time of year for candle-related house fires, says the NFPA. Keep lit candles at least 12 inches away from surrounding objects. Trim wicks to a quarter of an inch before you light them and only let candles burn one hour for every inch of diameter.
- Remember to secure the house - If you're headed out of town for an extended period, you should do more than just lock up. Tell neighbors you trust that you're going away and have them keep an eye out. Have your post office stop your mail and put lights — inside and outside — on timers, so they go on and off at random times during the night.
These safety tips are essential all year round but during the holidays they are even more important and will help you find peace of mind and peace on earth.