As an Arizona Public Service employee, it makes me especially proud to see our product energizing the holidays — from the oven baking the holiday treats to the lights that glitter down our Yuma streets.

‘Tis the season for celebration, but it’s also an important time of year to remember safety. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms around the country see more than 12,000 people each year for holiday-related incidents, including electrical contact involving lights and decorations.

To ensure accidents aren’t part of your holiday tradition, APS offers some electrical safety reminders of the season. (Singing is optional.)

• Turn off holiday lights before going to sleep or leaving the house unattended. An appliance timer can help with this.

• When stringing lights outside, use a dry, wooden or fiberglass ladder. Don’t work alone, and be sure to stay away from overhead power lines.

• Use only strings of outdoor lights, spotlights, sockets and extension cords approved by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

• Before putting up lights, check wires, cords, plugs and sockets. Repair or discard any that are frayed, worn, or damaged.

• Use more than one circuit to avoid overloading wiring. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for how many light strands you can safely string together.

• Consider using LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights. They run much cooler than their traditional counterparts, pose less of a fire risk and use much less energy.

• To reduce the risk of electrical shock, protect outdoor electrical outlets with GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and test that these GFCIs are working properly. If GFCI receptacles are not available, you can use portable GFCI equipment instead. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises that GFCI protection could prevent more than two-thirds of the 300 annual electrocutions nationwide.

• Do not use candles near flammable materials or where they can be knocked over or reached by small children or pets.

• Have at least one smoke detector properly installed on every story and test these regularly to ensure they stay in working condition.

• If you have a live Christmas tree, make sure to check the water level in the tree stand every day. If the tree starts losing a lot of needles or if the needles become brittle, do not turn on your tree lights. The heat they generate might start a fire.

• Avoid stringing any outdoor lighting or electrical cords in areas reached by water from irrigation or sprinklers. Water and electricity do not mix, and can cause serious injury or even death in these conditions.

• As a precaution, have at least one class-ABC extinguisher. Know how to use it properly and keep it in an easily accessible area. An extinguisher with this classification puts out all three types of fires: combustible-liquid fires; fires from burning wood, paper, and cloth; and electrical fires. Remember to check the pressure in the extinguisher every month and to refill or replace the extinguisher if it’s low.

Anna Chaulk is the community affairs manager for APS. She can be reached at

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