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Important safety tips on holiday lighting and winter fire prevention

12/9/2013, 6 a.m.
For many families across central Maryland, the Thanksgiving holiday marks the beginning of the holiday lighting season for homes and ...

For many families across central Maryland, the Thanksgiving holiday marks the beginning of the holiday lighting season for homes and businesses. As safety is a top priority at Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), the company is providing customers with holiday lighting safety tips and information on preventing winter fires. BGE urges customers to take precautionary steps when setting up holiday decorations and to always follow manufacturers’ instructions.

Holiday Lighting Safety Tips:

·Always turn off all decorative lighting when leaving the house and before going to bed.

·Follow the manufacturer's limits for the number of strings that can safely be connected together.

·Check all light strands for cracked or broken plugs, frayed insulation or bare wires. Worn cords can cause fires.

·Discard all damaged sets of lights.

Outdoor Lighting Safety Tips:

·Before working with outdoor lights, check for overhead power lines.

·Do not place yourself or any object in a position where you or it may come in contact with a power line.

·Keep yourself or any object at least 10 feet away from all overhead lines.

·Ensure that the lights used to decorate the outside of the house are approved for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside.

·If stringing lights on trees, make sure tree limbs have not grown into or near power lines. Branches or entire trees can become energized if they come in contact with a power line.

Indoor Lighting Safety Tips:

·Route cords inside your home so they do not pose a tripping hazard.

·Do not place cords under rugs, furniture or other appliances. If covered, cords can overheat or become frayed and can cause a fire.

·If you have a real Christmas tree, be sure to keep it watered.

·Do not use real candles. If you do, keep all burning candles within sight and extinguish them before leaving the room or going to bed.

·Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface and away from children and pets.

·Consider using energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting products. These products produce about 75 percent less heat, so they are safer to operate than traditional incandescent bulbs and The BGE Smart Energy Savers Program® offers instant discounts of up to $5 on select ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulbs at participating retailers. For more information, visit bgesmartenergy.com.

Ladder Safety Tips:

·Be careful and look up before raising ladders or other objects.

·Maintain three points of contact when ascending or descending a ladder.

·Do not work off the top two steps of any ladder.

·Make sure that the ladder’s feet are firmly set and square before climbing.

·If possible, have a spotter at the base of the ladder.

Fireplace and Stove Safety Tips:

·Keep all flammable household items at least three feet away from the appliance.

·Never start your fire with gasoline, kerosene or other flammable liquids.

·Do not use logs made from wax and sawdust in your wood stove or fireplace insert. They are made for open-hearth fireplaces.

·Keep the doors of your wood-burning appliance closed unless you are loading or stoking the fire.

·Regularly remove the ashes into a metal container with a lid and store outside away from the home.

·Keep a fire extinguisher near the appliance. Make sure it has not passed its expiration date and that the pressure gauge needle is in the green area.

·Have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected each year.

·Remember to test and change the batteries on your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors twice a year. Be sure that the units haven’t passed their expiration dates and replace them if they have.

BGE wishes all of its customers a safe holiday season. For more information on electric or natural gas safety, visit: www.bge.com.