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Beware of electrical dangers when decorating for Halloween

Christmas is no longer the only holiday that we bring out lights and yard decorations to show our festive spirit. Halloween has become a time to string up lights, plug in fog machines, light up those electric-powered decorations, and create a yard that is scare-worthy to any trick-or-treater that may stop by. But beware of the hidden electrical dangers that could spoil your holiday.

"Many times we store our annual decorations away in the garage, basement, or storage shed; and cords can become frayed or damaged in storage from extreme weather or by a mouse that may have found its way into the storage space," says Molly Hall, Energy Education Council executive director.

Safe Electricity offers these tips to make your Halloween safe and fun.

    House and yard decorated safely with Halloween lights and decorations
  • Carefully inspect each electrical decoration. Check for cracking, fraying, or bare wires; they may cause a serious shock or start a fire.
  • Replace any damaged decorations.
  • Make sure any lights, animated displays, or other electrical outdoor products are Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved and marked for outdoor use.
  • Follow the care and instructions that accompany your electrical decorations.
  • Don't overload extension cords or allow them to run through water on the ground.
  • Plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into outlets protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). If your outlets don’t have them, either contact a qualified electrician to install them or use portable GFCIs instead.
  • Keep electrical cords out of walkways to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Turn off all electrical decorations and lights before leaving home or going to sleep. Consider using a timer.
  • When decorating outside, always make sure to look up and check that you and any equipment, such as ladders, are at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines.

Avoid any dangerous tricks this Halloween by enjoying your treats and decorating safely. Get more safety tips at SafeElectricity.org.

Article and image courtesy of SafeElectricity.org with modifications by Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc.

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