How to Avoid Christmas Lights Dangers

The arrival of December means neighborhoods decked out in Christmas lights, but it's also one of the deadliest months for house fires.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, firefighters across the country respond to 800 fires annually due to Christmas decorations. That doesn't include those caused by dry Christmas trees which lead to several deaths each year.

It's one of the reasons Dallas firefighter Anthony Laurenzi started a side business installing Christmas lights when he's not at the station.

"That's kind of one of the main reasons to become a firefighter is to help people and this way, we're just helping them with some Christmas cheer," Laurenzi said.

This year alone, he'll decorate close to 70 homes. About halfway there, he's already seen several mishaps that could've turned deadly. That included some melted plastic left over from an overloaded connector that he found on top of a client's roof a few weeks ago left over from an install someone else did last year.

"It just fried the connector all the way to the middle. If it was under the roof or touching anything flammable, it could've easily started a fire," Laurenzi said.

Similarly, his business partner fought a fire that started after a staple went through a light's wire.

"The source was just a simple staple through the electrical wire and just heating up over time and then just smoldered and caught it on fire," Laurenzi said.

In addition to being careful about install, Laurenzi recommended never using equipment like power strips meant for indoors out in the elements. Don't overload electrical circuits with too many lights. For the old incandescent lights, he said that's generally five strands.

He also said to use electrical tape to cover any of the wire's cut ends.

"If it touches leaves or water it can make your whole gutter electrify," Laurenzi said.

Last but not least, he adds timers to all lights he installs. He said while LEDs aren't the drain on electricity Christmas lights once were, he still wouldn't leave them on 24/7 to minimize any and all fire risks.

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