ADA - The holiday season officially kicks off this week and no doubt your thoughts have turned to decorating your home in festive lights. Whether you are creating a showcase of holiday spirit visible from space or just keeping it simple with a few strands of lights, staying safe while decorating should be on top of the list of holiday must-dos. Here are some light safety tips to keep in mind as you begin your holiday decorating!

· Before decorating, read and follow the manufacturers' instructions concerning installation and maintenance of all decorative electrical products.

· Use lights and other electrical decorations certified by a recognized independent testing laboratory such as CSA, UL, or ETL.

· Outdoors, use lights and other electrical decorations certified for outdoor use.

· Carefully inspect each decoration before plugging into an outlet. Cracked, frayed, loose or bare wires, as well as loose connections may cause electrical shock or start a fire. Replace damaged items.

· Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing light bulbs or fuses.

· Do not mount or support light strings that might damage the cord's insulation.

· Never nail or staple light strings or extension cords.

· Do not connect more than three light string sets together.

· Light strings with screw-in bulbs should have no more than 50 bulbs connected together.

· Do not overload extension cords - they can overheat and start a fire.

· Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.

· Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights.

· Do not allow children or pets to play with electrical decorations. Even small light decorations can produce a fatal shock if they are misused.

· Turn off all electrical decorations before leaving home or going to bed.

· Plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters. Portable GFCIs can be purchased wherever electrical supplies are sold.

Tips made available by Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative. For more information visit www.hwe.coop.