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Make the Season Merry, Bright and Safe

Chestnuts roasting, Jack Frost nipping: they bring thoughts of holidays, cold winter nights and fond memories. It is a great time of the year but, for code enforcement professionals and emergency services, holidays and cold weather create additional hazards that require extra vigilance.

Lights that bring a twinkle to the eye also create safety hazards. We have all seen strings of lights plugged into more strings than we want to think about. Multi-plug devices can turn a duplex receptacle into 8 outlets and tax receptacle circuits to the maximum. Add these loads to existing electronics and it is surprising that neighborhood lights don't dim when decorations are lit.

As code enforcement professionals we know it is hard to regulate some things. This is why it is so important to enforce the code during construction. Requiring outlet spacing and proper circuit ratings during construction provides a safe system for peak demands.

There are times we wonder if our efforts are worthwhile. But consider the alternative--even more extension cords. If you worry about an overloaded system during the holidays, think about the hazards without strong enforcement during construction. There is nothing more rewarding than a holiday season without a house fire caused by an overloaded electrical circuit.

Holiday candles are tremendous hazards. Basic candle safety makes the holiday experience memorable and safe. Never leave a candle unattended, distance them from combustibles and place in appropriate stands/holders. Always make sure candles are completely extinguished.

Holidays should be filled with sugarplums and twinkles, but we can't forget safety. Stealing the beauty of the season like the Grinch is not my intention. A safe season is a peaceful, enjoyable season. Accidents are preventable. As professionals we ensure compliance but sometimes forget it in our own homes. Don't forget to pass this information on to loved ones.

In closing for this year, I thank you for your comments about News & Information. It makes time spent worthwhile. Have a joyous, happy holiday season and a great New Year! As professionals, let's make it a safe one.


Richard A. Piccolo is president of B & F Technical Code Services, Inc. With more than 30 years in the building code and fire industry, Mr. Piccolo is a Master Code Professional, a Certified Building Official, a Certified Fire Official, a Certified Property Maintenance Inspector, a Certified Building Inspector, a Certified Plans Examiner, an Illinois Certified Fire Inspector and a Certified Firefighter III. He has helped write building and fire codes for the state of Illinois as well as a number of municipalities.
B & F Technical Code Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 957648
2401 W. Hassell Road., Suite 1550
Hoffman Estates, IL 60195
  Phone: (847) 490-1443
  Toll-Free (800) 488-7057
  Fax: (847) 490-1476