Your holiday schedule is busy enough without a trip to the emergency room interrupting it. And while everyone enjoys cozying up to a fire, it’s nicer if the burning is in your fireplace instead of on your lawn or roof. Holiday lighting accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries and fires around Christmas, so take these precautions to keep your outdoor lighting safe.
Use Lights and Decorations Rated for Outdoor Use
Your outdoor lights and other decorations need to be waterproof and approved for use outside. Check the label for an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal of approval for outdoor use. Indoor lights are not built to withstand outside use. They can break from the freeze-and-thaw cycles typical of winter weather, and they’re usually not resistant to water or other moisture.
Use a Proper Outlet
Your outdoor power should be supplied by a GFCI-protected outlet, whether you plug in inside or out. Not only will the breaker trip if there’s an overload, but anytime there’s a problem with moisture or a leak in the current, the circuit will shut off before any lasting damage can occur. Recent building codes require GFCI outlets outdoors and in kitchens and baths. If your home doesn’t have them, call a licensed electrician to change your outlets out for you. Some stores may carry portable outdoor GFCI units for temporary use, too.
Plan Ahead to Avoid Hazards
Be sure to use extension cords rated for outdoor use and contain connections of one cord to another to aces where they won’t be reached by rain, snow, or other moisture. Use cords that are the right length to reach your lights without stretching or bunching up, creating a tripping hazard. If you must run a cord across a walkway, secure it with a cord chase or strong weatherproof tape. Don’t let overhead cords dangle where they can get snagged by people walking underneath or ladders and larger than life Christmas boxes passing under them.
Don’t Overload Your Wiring
If you use larger C7 or C9 bulbs (they have a traditional teardrop shape), don’t string more than three 25-bulb strands together. Longer 100-bulb strands should be operated separately. Longer strands of miniature bulbs can be connected together as long as the total load doesn’t exceed the rating of the cord and circuit they’re connected to. Many of these lights have fuses near their plugs, so check the fuse first if the whole strand goes out. Replace burned-out bulbs promptly because they can cause the strand voltage to increase and reduce the life of the other bulbs.
Use Caution When Installing Decorations
Use a solid ladder to hang lights and never climb too high or overreaching. Only use insulated wire holders as staples, tacks and nails can break the wire’s insulation and cause short circuits and overheating. Keep yourself, your tools, and your lights away from power lines, including trees that could come into contact with lines in heavy snow or ice.
Outdoor holiday lights can brighten up your house and your spirit. Follow the precautions above and you can look forward to a season’s worth of enjoyment.
The pros at Allstar Electrical Services wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and are ready to help you with any electrical needs or concerns during the holidays or any other time of year. We’ve been serving the Front Range for nearly 15 years and are top-rated by the BBB and Angie’s List.
Visit our website, allstarelectrical.com, and see the many ways we can serve your electrical needs. And have a happy and safe holiday season.