The holiday season is a wonderful and special time of the year; bright decorations hang from street lights and store fronts alike. It’s a time for excitement and adorning your own home, but there are a few things you ought to consider when lighting your own home with Christmas cheer. If it’s time for you to begin decorating your home, please take a look at these Christmas light safety tips before beginning your Christmas decorations in earnest.
Double Check Your Light Strands
Whether you’re still using incandescent bulb lights or LED lights, be sure to give the actual electric strand a good inspection before hanging the lights. If you’re using lights that you’ve owned for a while, a lot can happen in the year they’ve been in storage. Check for frays in the protective coating, cracks, or protruding wires. If you plan on using a strand of lights for decorating your home’s interior, exterior, or tree, a compromised light strand can pose a serious fire hazard. If you find any damage at all to your light strand, it’s probably best to just get a new one.
Retire Older Strands of Lights
Some strands of lights can survive for decades and be passed down through families as a type of holiday heirloom. While this sentiment is lovely during the holiday season, this tradition can also pose its own fire hazard. More modern strands of lights possess fused plugs that prevent sparks in the event that the strand of lights short circuits. Older strands of lights do no possess this failsafe. To keep your family and home safe this holiday season, keep the older set of lights stowed away in the attic and use a newer set of lights with a fused plug. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Pay Attention to Wattage
It’s quite common for bulbs on light strands go burn out or malfunction. When taking steps to replace these dead lights, be sure to use lights and bulbs that are the same wattage as the rest of the strand. Using mismatched wattages of bulbs can result in the light strand experiencing a short circuit which can essentially destroy your entire strand of lights. Also, remember to unplug your strand of lights before you begin replacing damaged bulbs.
Use Proper Hardware for Outdoor Lights
Most people enjoy decorating the exterior of their homes as well – and some will go the full nine yards for such a display as well. Outdoor decorations can be absolutely gorgeous, but outdoor displays come with their own challenges. Outdoor lights expose strands of electric lights to wet and windy elements. To help prevent a short circuit or a shock, use ground-fault circuit interrupters to the exterior of your home. These GFCI light sockets will continuously sense for interruptions in the electrical current and help prevent a person touching a cord plugged into the socket from being shocked.
Check on Your Extension Cords
Strands of holiday lights allow you to piggyback one strand onto the end of the previous strand for limitless coverage of holiday lights that will suit your decorating needs. One thing you should keep an eye on is the extension cord if you happen to have several strings of lights plugged into it. Extension cords have the possibility of overheating. You can safely check on yours by simply touching the extension cord with your fingers.
Use Hooks to Hang Lights
When most people decorate for the holidays, they use whatever hardware they have on hand: Metal nails, thumbtacks, screws, and more. This can become a dangerous practice depending on the sorts of decorations that you use. Metal nails or thumbtacks can pierce the protective coating of light strands and become electrified. Not only that, but hooks will eliminate the possibility of your decorations falling and causing damage.
The Christmas season is a time for fun and leaving cares behind. But safety should always come first and these tips will help you enjoy the holiday season with peace of mind. Happy Holidays!
Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer for Scepter-Power.