‘Tis the season to turn your home into a festive winter wonderland. Just driving around during the month of December spreads happiness and holiday cheer. Seeing your neighbors’ houses lit up by beautiful golden lights or shadows of red and green gives you a heartwarming feeling you can only experience this time of year. It’s not too late to get your holiday decorations up, but make sure you are taking the necessary precautions when it comes to electrical safety.
Inspect Your Decor
The first step to getting your home ready for the holiday spirit is getting your lights and decorations out of storage. Now, remember, they haven’t been used in a year, so it is important that you inspect your decor. Once you have all your electrical pieces out carefully begin to look for exposed or frayed wires, broken bulbs, scorch marks, or melted plastic. These are all things that can indicate a holiday light safety risk. If you spot any of these problems, throw the faulty decorations and replace them rather than repairing them.
Test the Lights
Once you have inspected the lights, give them a test to make sure they still have a nice twinkle in them. You don’t want to do all the work putting them up, just to find out they look pretty dull. Give each piece a test run by plugging it in and ensuring that these lights are ready for the season.
Go Green this Holiday Season
If it’s time to upgrade your old and worn out lights, look toward energy-efficient lights this year. LED Holiday lights use a fraction of the energy of older incandescent lights. These bulbs also produce virtually no heat, which makes them safer, especially if you are hanging them on natural trees. Decades-old, vintage holiday lights should be used with extreme care, as they may pose a higher electrical fire risk.
Check Indoor Vs. Outdoor Ratings
Most electrical decorations are rated for indoor use, outdoor use, or dual-use. Those specifically rated for indoor use do not mix with rain so it is important that you check the information stamped on each strand of lights if you are unsure. Make sure you are also checking your extension cords as they are simply rated and each cord has a maxim amperage. Avoid overloading your extension cords by tallying up the amperages of all the decorations connected to each cord.
Water Your Tree
If you are using a natural indoor tree, make sure you water your tree once a day. A thirsty tree will become dry and more susceptible to accidental fire, creating a major Christmas light safety risk.
Make sure any exterior outlets you are using have ground fault circuit interrupters installed. If not, get a licensed electrician to perform this important safety upgrade. At Electrical Plus we are more than happy to assist you with this as it is a quick and simple job. On top of this make sure to keep your extension cord plugs dry.
There is always a risk when hanging lights outside, especially when using a ladder. Make sure the day you hang your lights is a day with sunny, fair weather. Dress appropriately in clothes that do not fit loose or could get caught up causing injury. Stick to non-slip shoes. Use a dry wooden ladder when necessary, and make sure you have a spotter. Be cautious around overhead power lines. Avoid using a staple gun as this can easily put a hole in the sheath of a string of lights, creating an instant fire hazard. Use plastic clips instead.
Avoid Damaging Wires
Your heavy-duty outdoor extension cords can take a bit of wear and tear but you should be especially careful with the more delicate wires in string lights. If you have them running under area rugs, through doorways, or even just around corners, there are opportunities for damage that can lead to safety hazards.
Once you have followed these safety precautions you will be able to sit back and enjoy your holiday display and not have to worry about any electrical hazards. One thing to keep in mind is using an electronic timer or using smart plugs to control your display from your smartphone. You shouldn’t be worried about whether your undamaged, responsibly-installed lights are safe to use, but as a precaution, it’s safest to turn them off before going to bed or leaving the house. If you need any advice or assistance visit our website and contact us, as we are happy to help you get prepared for this holiday season.