Holiday Lighting Safety, Installation, and Storage Tips
Have you started noticing the holiday light displays going up around town? We have too.
In the coming weeks as you begin to put up your displays, and in the weeks that follow as you take them back down, we’d like to offer you a few safety tips to keep in mind as you’re working with your holiday decor.
Examine all electrical decorations
Before you string your lights on your tree or the roof of your home, inspect each string to ensure they are in good working condition. Watch for broken or damaged sockets, bare wires, or loose connections. If anything appears out of order, discard them from use, as they can cause shock or possible fire.
Also ensure all electrical decorations have been inspected and certified by UL, CSA, or an accredited inspection agency. Always buy your lights from reputable retailers – these aren’t something you should pick up second hand from a flea market, or online from a less than reliable source.
Advise children to stay away from all electrical cords. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 4,000 injuries occur each year from electric extension cords, and up to 13 percent of those involved children less than five years of age. Of those, more than half are electrical burns to the mouth.
Be sure to store them properly, so they don’t tangle and risk damage as you try and untangle them the next year. You can purchase light storage reels or light cord wraps from your favorite store. Or use empty cans to wrap the cords around and keep them safe.
Hang them in a safe way
Did you know that emergency rooms treat about 12,500 people each year for injuries sustained while installing holiday decorations? In many cases, those injuries are caused while using ladders.
Be sure to select a ladder that’s properly sized for the job. It should extend at least 3 feet beyond the working surface. Ensure that it is on solid, level ground and has slip resistant feet.
If you have power lines or electrical equipment nearby, always keep away from live wires.
Match the power requirements of your electrical decorations with the ratings of the connected load. Shut off all decorations while handling them, and shut off the breaker before replacing bulbs or fuses.
Never overload your circuits
Overloaded circuits and outlets are one of the most common causes of fires. Always add up the current requirements of the load you are connecting to the loads already on the particular circuit you are using. Don’t overload.
Also, ensure that your outdoor circuits are protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs.)
Wattage loads can quickly add up. This is especially true with the lights you’ve had tucked away year after year. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how many sets of lights can be plugged in together. Now may be the time you upgrade your incandescent bulbs with LED, which use less energy and are cooler to the touch.