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Holiday Lights are an Inexpensive Way of Decorating, But Pepco Reminds Customers that Safety is Key

For Immediate Release
December 8, 2003

Using holiday lights is a popular and inexpensive means for decorating this time of year; in fact, on average, it costs Pepco customers just 3.5 cents to operate three, 100-bulb strands of mini-lights for four hours. However, Pepco reminds customers that a quick check of lights and decorations before installation can provide peace of mind and a safe holiday.

"One of the most important things you can do is check each set of lights, old or new, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, loose connections, and loose or missing bulbs that need to be replaced," said David Nagy, Pepco's Manager of Safety Services. "You should also look for a label stating that the lights were tested by a recognized testing laboratory and check the light sets for fuses that guard against overload."

Nagy also stresses the importance of using lights only as directed by the manufacturer - for example, indoor lights for inside use. Individuals should be sure to read instructions provided with each holiday lighting package and store with the decorations for reference the following year. "You also want to use only extension cords that are rated to carry the electrical loads connected to them," Nagy continued.

INDOOR LIGHTING

  • Do not connect more than three mini (push-in bulbs) light string sets together. Light strings with the screw-in bulbs (C7s and C9s) should have a maximum of 50 bulbs connected together.
  • Don't overload circuits. Circuits in older homes usually can carry about 1,800 watts. If you are using extension cords, be sure to add up everything on one circuit: tree lights, lamps, appliances, and electrical equipment.
  • Do not insert new bulbs or change fuses when light sets are plugged in.
  • Keep lights away from carpeting, furniture and drapes.
  • Turn off decorative lights before you go to bed or leave home. Consider setting a timer for easy use.
  • Make sure household smoke detectors are working properly.
  • Avoid covering lights with cloth, paper or any material that is not part of the lighting.
  • When lights are placed on a live tree, keep plugs and cords away from the tree's water.
  • Don't run cords under rugs or through high traffic areas where people can trip over them.
  • Keep children away from the lights, because the bulbs may be hot. Electrical decorations aren`t toys and could produce a deadly electric shock or cause a fire if misused. Make sure you keep light strings away from curious pets as well.

OUTDOOR LIGHTING

  • When hanging lights around your roofline or in trees, be sure to survey the area for overhead power lines and maintain at least a 10-foot distance.
  • Use only outdoor extension cords with molded plugs and sockets.
  • Keep all electrical connections off the ground and hang sockets downward to prevent water from seeping into them.
  • For added protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Outlets with GFCIs help protect you from serious shock if lights or tools have an electrical malfunction.
  • Do not run electrical cords through door or window openings where they can be damaged.
  • When running cords out from your house, be very careful where the connections end up. Don`t leave a connection where it could end up in a puddle of rainwater or melted snow, or you might have an unwelcome surprise when you plug the lights in.
  • If extension cords and light strings are connected together outdoors, keep the connections dry by wrapping them with friction tape or plastic.
  • Do not drive nails, staples or tacks through wiring insulation. Pepco encourages all its customers to take safety seriously when using electricity and to always comply with the equipment manufacturer's directions.

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About Pepco: For more than 100 years, Pepco has served the people of the Washington metropolitan area with clean, reliable and low-cost electricity. Pepco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), provides electricity transmission and distribution services to more than 700,000 customers in the District of Columbia and major portions of Prince George`s and Montgomery County in Maryland. Point of Contact:Denise Gavilan

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