For Immediate Release - December 20, 2012

Light Up This Holiday Season With Safety Tips From the State Office of Consumer Affairs

BOSTON – Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Barbara Anthony and Don Jansen, the Executive Director of the Board of State Examiners of Electricians Division of Professional Licensure staff today offered tips to consumers on how to safely install and display holiday lights.

An accompanying video is available on the office’s YouTube channel.

“Each year thousands of Massachusetts residents will deck their homes with holiday lights,” said Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony. “We want consumers to enjoy this opportunity to spread holiday excitement while keeping themselves and their homes safe.”

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 240 home fires between 2004 -2009 that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries, and $16.7 million in direct property damage annually.

“With the holiday season upon us, it is important to be mindful of safe lighting and decorative practices,” said Mark Kmetz, Director of the Division of Professional Licensure. “These simple tips will help consumers to make informed decisions when it comes to purchasing and using holiday lighting products.”

“It just takes a couple of minutes to make sure your holidays are safe,” said Donald Jansen, Executive Director of the State Board of Examiners of Electricians. “Homeowners should always take a few extra minutes to make sure their trees are watered and check their electric cords.”

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation offer the following tips for consumers to safely install holiday lighting:

  • Inspect string lighting for cracked cords, frayed ends, loose connections, damaged wire insulation, broken bulbs or sockets. Damaged lights should properly be repaired with electrical tape or disposed of.
  • Use string lighting with fuses—many older lights may need to be replaced
  • Properly insulate plugs and connectors for outdoor lights from weather such as snow or rain
  • Watch out for signs that a circuit is overloading. If circuit breakers flip or fuses blow, you are overloading a circuit.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions; do not connect more than the recommended number of lights together.
  • Do not cover lights with flammable material such as cloth or paper.
  • Make sure lights are properly rated for inside or outside use. Lights with a red UL label have been rated for outdoor use; those with a green label have been rated for indoors.
  • If you notice any of the following danger signs, immediately unplug the lights: flickering lights, burning smell, hot receptacle or switch, discoloration of wire or plug.
  • Do not nail or tack lights to walls. Damaged wire insulation could result in electric shock.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office on its Facebook page and on Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

The Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) is a regulatory agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.  The agency is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance and the integrity of the licensing process for approximately 365,000 licensees in trades and professions under the jurisdiction of 31 boards of registration. DPL also licenses and regulates private occupational schools. Follow DPL on Twitter at @MassDPL.