LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Holiday decorations are appearing across the Natural State and communities are gearing up for annual Christmas parades and light shows. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, homes across Arkansas are lit for the season’s celebrations.

Along with the coziness of holiday lights, candles and fireplaces, there are also dangers families should take into account.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2012-2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 170 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 4 deaths, 15 injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage annually. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 43% of home Christmas tree fires.

Entergy Arkansas encourages our customers to put safety first this holiday season with a few simple reminders and precautions.

Inside lighting:

  • If using a live tree, make sure it is fresh and green, with needles that are hard to pull from the branches.
  • Place the tree in a stand with water, well away from heaters or the fireplace. Check water daily.
  • Examine all lights before putting them on the tree or using them in other home decorations. Do not use lights with frayed wiring or loose sockets, and make sure they have been tested for safety by an independent testing laboratory.
  • For greater efficiency and safety, use smaller, cool-burning LED lights.
  • Make sure all light sockets have bulbs in them. Children are fascinated by lights and could put their fingers in empty sockets.
  • Keep bulbs from touching tree branches. Never burn candles on or near the tree and never use flammable decorations.
  • Never use lights on a metallic tree. If the lights become faulty, the entire tree could be electrified.
  • Be careful not to overload extension cords, outlets or even whole circuits in the house.
  • Turn off decorative lighting when you leave the room.
  • Place wires where they cannot trip anyone. Do not run them under rugs.

Outside lighting:

  • Make sure the lights used are designated for outdoor use.
  • Use a non-conducting fiberglass or wooden ladder when working with strings of lights. Also, stay clear of all overhead wires.
  • Do not replace bulbs when the electricity is on.
  • Never let light bulbs touch flammable materials such as plastic or dry grass and leaves.
  • For outside use, work only with three-wire grounded extension cords.
  • Use rubber gaskets in light sockets or hang sockets downward to keep water out.
  • Keep connections and lights off the ground by hanging them over wooden stakes.
  • Turn outside holiday lights off when away from home or asleep.