Light Up Your Christmas, Not Your Property

   

The happiness of seeing the lights of Christmas and the intention to mitigate the low temperatures of this season may cause going from joy to sadness for not taking precautions.

According to information provided by Bomberos de Monterrey, 2,762 fires were reported during Christmas season, mostly because of gas leaks and short circuits. This is nine fires per day. Therefore, Ing. Felix Gonzalez Estrada, Head of the Department of Infrastructure for Sustainability, gives some recommendations on the electrical equipment used to illuminate traditional Christmas trees and other indoor and outdoor decorations.

“We recommend a clock timer for the Christmas tree since it does not have to be on during the entire night, and it could be very dangerous as it may overheat, causing an electrical failure or a fire,” Gonzalez Estrada mentioned.

According to a drill by the Office of Public Safety, it takes just 48 seconds for a Christmas tree to burn completely after an electrical failure due to overheating.

He also recommends using LED lighting. “They may be more expensive, but they consume less energy and last longer than regular lights. Although they are aesthetically brighter, we must turn them off before going to sleep.”

Furthermore, up to 35% energy saving is possible through the proper use of LED lighting during Christmas season, as suggested by the Federal Department of Electricity.

Regarding outdoor lighting, Gonzalez Estrada recommends to use proper power cords and insulate all connections between plugs and outlets. “We recommend power cords for outdoor use rather than regular cords. It is better to invest in a good extension cord and insulate it properly when connected to another one. We suggest to protect extension cords from rain in order to avoid direct contact with water.”

In relation to electrical failures, he comments that connecting several Christmas lights to the same extension cord is a common mistake: “Connecting several lights to a single outlet can result in an electrical failure due to overheating.”

Gonzalez Estrada suggests learning more about this subject and considering reading the user manual of the equipment in use. He also recommends to verify the amount of watts an extension cord can resist: “500 watts is a reasonable number, which means that there could be up to four extension cords of 80 watts plugged at the same time, but adding more can be dangerous.”

The most common perils caused by the usage of electrical decoration on Christmas are:

- Electrical failure due to electrical overload in Christmas lights.

- Fires caused by electrical failure or carelessness of Christmas lightning decoration, especially if they are close to dry trees and flammable accessories, such as wrapping paper.

- Electric shocks caused by wet, exposed Christmas lights in outdoor trees and backyards.

The recommendations are:

- Verify whether there are any bare wires in the Christmas lights.

- Replace bulbs carefully when the Christmas lights are connected and protect children from playing with them.

- Unplug all Christmas lights before going to sleep, both indoor and outdoor.

- No more than three extension cords must be interconnected; instead use a power strip.

- Place extension cords away from the Christmas tree and do not interconnect more than three Christmas lights.

- Doormats, carpets, or flammable materials should not be over extension cords.

- Disconnect extension cords by pulling the plug, not the cord as it could cause an electrical failure or damage.

Source: Federal Department of Electricity.

Ing. Felix Gonzalez Estrada, Head of the UANL Department of Infrastructure for Sustainability, has been a professor at the School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering for 45 years. In 2009, he received the National Award of Electrical Energy Conservation in the category ‘Medium-Sized Trade and Service Companies’, which is granted by the Energy Saving Trust Fund (FIDE), 2009.

For further information:
Department of Infrastructure for Sustainability (located on the second floor of the General Warehouse Offices, next to the University Olympic Aquatic Center).
Phone (01-81) 8329-4000 extension 5647
E-mail address: felix.gonzaleze@uanl.mx