We often hear warnings at this time of year that, if you’re not extremely careful, Christmas trees draped with electric lights can be a sure recipe for fire, sending your glad yuletide tidings up in smoke. But just how how likely are such accidents to occur? Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage of TV’s MythBusters recently decided to conduct a couple of experiments to find out.
It’s pretty much standard these days for lights intended for Christmas tree decorations to have precautionary fuses in their plugs. The idea is to keep the electrical circuits in particular wall sockets from being overloaded. The MythBuster team set up a tree and dressed it with the five strands of lights recommended by the manufacturer. To see if it was safe to leave the lights on unattended for a prolonged period of time, they left them burning through the night. The next day everything was fine with no sign of fire.
Jamie and Adam then decided to leave normal safety guidelines way behind. They deliberately set up a very dry tree and decorated it with five times as many lights as they had used for the previous experiment. To facilitate this potential holiday inferno, they used several extension cords plugged into a bunch of wall outlets. Despite their best efforts, this tree didn’t catch fire either, even though the lights enfolding it quickly brought the temperature up to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
The bottom line is that, as a factor on their own, Christmas tree lights probably aren’t going to pose a fire hazard. That said, we at Prairie Electric want you to know it’s still foolish to overload electrical sockets and extension cords with excessive light strands. Especially if you’re using a real tree, a short circuit could cause a spark. And one spark can be all it takes to reduce your holiday to ashes.
To help guarantee a truly merry Christmas and avoid catastrophe, experts suggest that, if you’re going to use a real tree, you should be sure to pick one with fresh green needles that don’t drop off when you touch them. In addition, set the tree up at least three feet away from sources of heat, make sure it doesn’t block any exits and add water to the tree stand on a daily basis. Where lights are concerned, only use those that are labeled with the approval of a recognized testing laboratory and, stay on the safe side, go ahead and turn them off when you go to bed.
Have questions about maintaining a safe home this holiday season? Contact our team at Prairie Electric today!