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Holiday HVAC & Electrical Safety

November 23, 2016

It’s nearing that time of year when we’re making lists, checking them twice, decking the halls and hanging the lights. A festive home is just as much about the right Christmas tree and perfectly wrapped gifts as it is making sure your systems are prepared and well-equipped to withstand the holiday hustle.

At the top of your checklist should be properly planning how you’ll monitor and use your heating and electrical systems this season. Taking the initiative to think out these strategies is fundamental to creating a safe, comfortable and joyous home this holiday season.

Have you scheduled your seasonal HVAC tune-up?

Seasonal tune ups are important for your heating system because when equipment is inactive it’s a prime opportunity for issues to develop and go unnoticed. While heating maintenance is vital to having an efficient, comfortable home this fall and winter, there are other cautionary measures for the holiday season. Here are a few areas to keep in mind…

Supplemental heating safety

As temperatures dip, you’ll likely turn to supplement heating sources, like fireplaces and space heaters, to achieve greater indoor comfort. Fireplaces can supply a generous amount of heat to make your home warm and cozy, but when located near Christmas trees, decorations, gifts and more, it can create a huge hazard.

If you plan to use your fireplace, give the surrounding area some clearance from trees and decorations, preferably at least 3 feet. Similar guidelines apply to space heaters. According to the NFPA, two in five home heating fires are caused by a space heater. Take extra precautions as the exterior of these appliances gets warm to the touch; keep them a safe distance, and always turn the unit off before leaving the house or going to bed.

Related: Comfort and efficiency tips for heating season

Monitor extra electrical usage

There’s no doubt that the holiday season increases the electric bill, but it also raises chances of an electrical fire. Statistics from the ESFI indicate that household electrical fires increase in number over the winter holiday season. This should come as no surprise given the heavy usage of lights, appliances, as well as all those new electronics and gadgets under the tree. 

Avoiding electrical catastrophes isn’t tricky, it just takes some awareness and common sense. Always check electrical cords for fraying or damage, and never overload outlets and power strips. If a power strip is abnormally warm or you notice an odor coming from the area, turn off all electronics, unplug them, and reduce the outlet usage.  

Holiday decoration safety

In a survey conducted by the ESFI, over 50% of people indicated they used outdoor lighting as part of their holiday décor. Before you begin hanging lights or wrapping your porch in garland, take time to inspect each piece for damage because it could cause a breeding ground for electrical disaster.

Considering most holiday décor is either natural and live–like trees, garland and other roping–or synthetically made, the merger of various elements can become hazardous. Think about replacing damaged decorations and trading last year’s lights for new, safer options this holiday season. Always use automatic timers on lights so they’re shut off at night.

 More holiday heating and electrical safety tips 

  • Check your carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is a deadly problem, especially in winter months. Make sure to have your furnace and other oil or gas heating equipment inspected as well.
  • Candles create a holiday glow, but don’t let them be the source of a house fire. Keep active candles a safe distance from curtains, bedding and electric appliances. Never leave a lit candle unattended.
  • If you prefer a live tree, prevent it from drying out with daily watering. Check that artificial trees are fire resistant, and never use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • When decorating your home’s exterior, check that everything is suitable for outdoor use. Replace any worn or damaged extension cords and light strands. Be cautious of overburdening outlets by distributing power needs of lights and décor through multiple exterior outlets. 

Make safety part of your holiday tradition

 This holiday season, try to be more aware of what you’re doing to prevent electrical and heating related hazards. We know all too well how easy it is to get wrapped up in the day-to-day during such a busy, exciting time of year. Don’t let things that make your home bright and festive become your worst enemy. The two best ways to protect your home this winter are to have your HVAC equipment inspected, and take extra care with indoor and outdoor holiday decorations. 

If you haven’t had maintenance service in a while, it’s not too late to schedule your seasonal system tune-up. For more information on getting your equipment ready for heating season, or to learn more about winter electrical safety, contact Dominion Service Company today.