Tips for safe Christmas light-hanging in wake of house fire

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Tips for safely hanging Christmas lights
azfamily.com

Patrick Sheehy carefully puts up Christmas lights for his mother every year because he says, "Nobody wants a Christmas tragedy of catching a fire with Christmas lights."

But that's exactly what happened in Mesa on Wednesday. Firefighters say just three hours after hanging Christmas lights, an extension cord caught the family's home on fire.

Most of us, like Sheehy, use extension cords. Debbie Hernandez with Home Depot says the trick is you can't use indoor cords for outdoor purposes.

She explains, "The way you know the difference is by the prongs, on an indoor extension cord you are going to have two prongs, on an outdoor or indoor/outdoor you are going to have three prongs, and this is the ground so this is what will save you from having electrical fires."

In the Mesa fire, investigators believe the family overloaded the cord which is a common problem. Hernandez tells us each socket can safely handle about three strands of standard lights. "So you can plug in three to the top one and three to the bottom one."

But when it comes to energy saving LED lights Hernandez says they don't get as hot as standard lights and use 80% less energy so you can put up to five strands of lead in each socket.

If you need more of either type of strands you can use a power strip but you should never connect power strip to power strip. That could overload the system and lead to a similar fire as the one in Mesa.

If you want to add more amps to your house, experts say you should consult an electrician.