Practice safety with your holiday lights.

It’s the time of year when homes are filled with fun, decorative lights – but it’s also a dangerous time when fire hazards can threaten the holiday cheer. As the Valley’s largest electric provider, Salt River Project is encouraging customers to stay safe this holiday season as they plug in decorative lights, surge protectors and extension cords.

Each year, hundreds of homes are damaged or destroyed by fires that start with overloaded circuits, Christmas trees or holiday lights, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of checking all of holiday lights and power cords before plugging in to make sure they are in proper, working condition. The desert heat can do a lot of damage to these stored items throughout the year,” said Regina Lane-Haycock, with SRP Safety Connection.

SRP offers free materials to learn more about electric safety. Visit srpnet.com/safety to request materials or for more tips.

Here are some important safety tips to remember:

*Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, loose connections or frayed or bare wires. Discard all damaged cords.

*Don’t overload outlets or extension cords.

*Plug holiday lights and displays into GFCI protected outlets to prevent serious electric shock.

*Use only indoor and outdoor lights that have been tested for safety and are certified with the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) label.

*To hook up outdoor lighting, use a three-prong grounded extension cord with the UL label.

*Always unplug tree lights and decorative outdoor lighting before leaving the house or going to bed.

*Indoor and outdoor automatic lighting timers can be used to ensure that lights are not left on by mistake.

*Check that cords are not exposed to water due to sprinklers or irrigation.

*Keep electric cords out of high-traffic areas.

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