WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- It's starting to feel like winter out there and many people are getting into the holiday spirit, but as you start to put up the lights and decorations, you'll want to be aware of possible fire risks.
People get really excited to put up their holiday lights and they should be, but it’s important to be on the lookout for anything that could spark a fire.
Holiday lights are starting to go up around western Massachusetts. Some like lots of lights, while others want just a few.
While people like to save their money by reusing lights stored from year to year, West Springfield Fire Lt. Christopher Geary said if you're using old lights, make sure you inspect them first.
“You want to make sure that they work, inspect the wiring, make sure they're not frayed. That can cause an arc, which can cause a tree fire,” Geary said.
Geary told Western Mass News that because people like to set up their lights both inside and outside the house, they need to be aware of possible dangers.
For indoors, "you kind of want to use your indoor lights, indoors. They're not weather protected, which can cause a short or they just may not work if water gets into them,” Geary explained.
For outdoors, Geary noted, "you can buy outdoor protection for the connectors, so it keeps the water out of the connection. You want to use GCI or GFCI, they're the ground faults."
These will automatically kill the lights if there is any issue with water.
What you plugging the lights into is also significant.
“You can use extension cords, but you want to use the proper rated extension cord, usually a U.L. heavy-duty extension cord for outdoor use. Indoor use, you don’t want to overload the circuits. You don’t want to overload a surge protector. That can also cause a fire,” Geary explained.
Geary also says for those who have Christmas trees to set up, to be mindful of where you put them.
"You also don't want to place them by a heater, fire place, space heaters or even baseboard heat. You want to keep them away from your doors, so you have two ways out of the room,” Geary noted.
Geary told Western Mass News it's also important to double check how the lights are being hung.
“You want to use tested hangers for your lights. You don’t want to use nails, tacks, staples. Those can goes through the electrical insulation and start a potential fire on the outside and inside,” Geary said.
Also, don't leave your lights on non-stop.
“If you’re leaving your house, turn off your Christmas tree lights. Put them on a timer if you don’t remember. When you’re going to bed also, turn them off,” Geary added.
Also important, make sure you have fresh batteries in smoke detectors throughout your house.