The 'Trick' Is to 'Treat' Your Halloween Decorations with Care

With Halloween the
most decorated holiday following Christmas, there are a wide variety of
electrical decorations available that range from jack-o-lanterns to
elaborate illuminated figurines of witches and
ghosts and pumpkin light strings. While these decorations are a "treat" to
look at, it is important to use and exhibit them properly in order to reduce
the risk of accidental shock, fire or other injury.

No matter which decorations you use to trick and treat your guests
this year, remind your friends and loved ones that Halloween will be even more
fun and safe if they use their decorations properly. Electrical decorations
such as light strings and animated figures can certainly be enjoyed; however,
they should be displayed with the utmost care. The safety professionals at
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) offer the following tips and precautions
when decorating:

  • Use light strings and animated or electrical decorations that bear the UL
    mark. The UL mark on a product means that UL engineers have tested representative
    samples of the product for foreseeable safety hazards such as fire and electric
  • Electrical decorations, such as illuminated pumpkins, that have been tested
    by UL bear holographic UL marks -- easily identified by their silver base
    and UL marks that appear to "float" in the background. Holographic
    UL marks for light strings designed solely for indoor use bear green UL marks,
    and light strings for both indoor and/or outdoor use are identified by red
    UL Marks.
  • Before you begin decorating, your first step should be to read and
    follow the manufacturer's instructions concerning installation and
    maintenance of the electrical decorations you'll be using.
  • Before plugging in newly purchased electrical decorations, or those you've
    used previously, carefully inspect each decoration. Cracked sockets; frayed,
    loose, or bare wires; and loose connections may cause a serious electric shock
    or start a fire. Replace damaged items with new, UL listed decorations.
  • Always unplug a light string or electrical decoration before replacing
    light bulbs or fuses. Check the instructions to determine which
    maintenance the manufacturer recommends you perform. In most cases,
    maintenance is limited to fuse and lamp replacement only. Don't
    attempt to make a repair unless the instructions indicate the proper
    procedure and equipment for doing so. Decorations may overheat or
    safety mechanisms may not operate properly if you use replacement parts

    other than those specified by the manufacturer.
  • Don't mount or support light strings in any way that might damage the
    cord's wire insulation.
  • Check the markings on your electrical decorations to determine the
    maximum number of decorative lights (light strings) and decorations
    that may be connected together. If the product packaging does not
    indicate the number of light strings that may be connected together,
    practice this rule of thumb: do not connect more than three light
    string sets together.
  • Don't overload extension cords -- it could cause the cord to overheat
    and start a fire.
  • Don't allow children or pets to play with light strings or other
    electrical decorations. These decorations aren't toys and could
    produce a deadly electric shock if they are misused.
  • Turn off all electrical light strings and decorations before leaving
    home or going to bed.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers
    that bear the UL mark. Don't forget to install, test, and maintain these devices
    in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.