‘Tis the season to be jolly with thousands of colorful lights glowing from your trees, gutters, front door wreath, and bushes. Billions of lights will be used to dress up homes and businesses throughout the country during the final months of the year. As festive as the light-up Santa and Rudolph may look on top of your roof, you have to make electrical safety the focus of your holiday lighting festivities.
Following are five tips to help you avoid common holiday lighting problems others will experience this year. Commit them to memory so electrical safety does not pull the plug on your merry-making décor this year:
1. If you are putting up a live Christmas tree, make sure it is well-watered and use LED bulbs for all decorations placed on the tree. Dry trees and heat from non-LED bulbs create home fires every holiday season. Do not place candles where they may be knocked over on a live tree. LED bulbs should be used when decorating trees in your outdoor landscape as well.
2. Thoroughly inspect every string of lights and plug-in points before using them indoors or outdoors. If you notice any of the following at even one point on the string, toss it out or repair the damage before use to ensure electrical safety for your home:
- Frayed wires
- Gaps in the insulation
- Bare or worn spots on the wire
- Broken sockets (even small cracks may be dangerous)
- You can also touch wires that are in-use around your home. If you find a wire that is hot, — unplug it immediately.
3. Power cords should be used to connect strings of lights, but pay attention to how many strings you are connecting per cord. In general, more than three strings of lights could be too much.
4. Avoid hanging your lights with tacks, screws, or nails. You do not want to crack, tear, or otherwise damage the electric cord. You can use insulated hooks instead.
5. Make sure you are plugging outdoor lighting features into ground fault circuit interrupter outlets. These outlets reduce the risk of electrical shorts or dangerous shocks if water, wet leaves, and other outdoor elements get into the sockets.
6. Do not use indoor-only holiday lights outdoors. There are clear differences in how these types of lights are made, even if they look the same. For instance, outdoor lights are created with more insulation so they are not as easily affected by rain and snow.
Do not allow electrical safety to cut the cord on your holiday lighting festivities. Light up the house and allow the big snowman to wave at the neighbors from your front lawn. Just make sure your snow globes, trains, and twinkling tree lights present no danger to your home, your family, and your neighborhood.