DID YOU KNOW?
Do Christmas lights cause fires?
“MythBusters,” a cable television program that aims to prove or disprove common beliefs, once devoted an episode to this question: “Can Christmas tree lights really cause house fires?”
Hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage adorned a parched Christmas tree with five strands of lights — the limit recommended by manufacturers — and left them plugged in all night, according to the program's website. They returned to find no sign of fire.
Then they tried a more extreme test. This time they wrapped an “extremely dry” tree in five times as many lights as the other. Since Christmas lights have safety fuses to keep them from overloading circuits in single outlets, the MythBusters used extension cords and multiple outlets to bypass the safety features.
In 40 minutes, the temperature around the tree climbed to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hot, but not hot enough to start a fire.
While the tests showed that Christmas lights alone don't start fires, lights aren't the only things you have to worry about. Don't overload electrical outlets or use frayed cords. Old or faulty wiring can cause sparks that could ignite a tree. Use common sense precautions to keep the holidays safe and fun.
KEN RAYMOND, Staff Writer