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Have a Safe and Bright Holiday

While it’s traditional to decorate a Christmas tree this time of year, they are the source of 210 fires per year in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association Web site. Approximately 20 percent of Christmas tree fires are caused by decorative lighting. According to NFPA, it is suggested to keep real Christmas trees well watered. (photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hummel)

This year, replace those old hot incandescent bulbs with new bright and colorful miniature light -emitting diode (LED) lamps. A strand of 100 LED lamps uses only 20 percent of the energy necessary to light a strand of 100 mini-lights, and 98 percent less than the equal number of the traditional large bulbs.

Los Angeles Air Force Base -- Decorative lights add brightness and warmth to the holiday season, and choosing lights that are energy efficient helps keep the electric bill from taking the fun out of all that joy. 

This year when you string festive lights, make the choice to replace those old hot incandescent bulbs with new bright and colorful miniature light -emitting diode (LED) lamps. A strand of 100 LED lamps uses only 20 percent of the energy necessary to light a strand of 100 mini-lights, and 98 percent less than the equal number of the traditional large bulbs.

The LED lamps are much safer, operate cooler, almost indestructible and will not burn out for over 20 years! Imagine never having to check bulb after bulb looking for that one burnt out lamp in a long string hung on your tree, or worse yet, dragging out the ladder a second time to search the high eves of your home.

LED lamps do cost slightly more than conventional lights but they more than pay for themselves within a single season. Most lamps can be used either in or outdoors, please follow the manufactures recommendations. LED lamps can be found at most discount and hardware stores where holiday decorations are found.

Whatever your choice, please observe the following safe installation and use tips of holiday lighting:

· Check all light strands for broken sockets, frayed cords and loose connections. If you find any of these problems, replace the strand; don't attempt to "fix it"

· Make sure you don't overload a circuit when you plug in your holiday lights. Overloads can cause circuit failure and fire. A good rule o thumb is never plug more than three strands on any outlet

· Never leave lighted candles unattended

· Keep outdoor electrical connections above ground and out of the water

· Use miniature lights, or LED lamps with cool-burning bulbs wherever you can

· Do not change bulbs or fuses while the light sets are plugged in

· Keep holiday lights away from carpeting, furniture, drapes, and other combustible materials

· To prevent an organic holiday tree from becoming a fire hazard, check the water level daily. A newly cut tree can absorb a gallon or more of water per day

· When hanging lights, do not inset tacks, staples or nails through any electric cords

· Only lights designated for outdoor use should be used outside

· For added safety, make sure holiday lights are unplugged before you go to bed or leave the house

· Office use of decorative lighting, though not encouraged, should be kept to a minimum and someone should be assigned to extinguish them each day at the close of business