Maybe you’re the type who waits for the Thanksgiving weekend to hang your outdoor lights for the holidays. Or maybe your outdoor lighting is in place by now. Either way, here are some tips to be safe and stay safe this holiday lighting season.
Be safe when hanging, maintaining, and removing outdoor lights
Make sure ladders are resting on firm footing and don’t overextend your reach. Snow can hide loose dirt or gravel, and whether you’re on foot or on a ladder, icy spots are accidents waiting to happen.
Stay safely away from power lines when using and moving ladders, especially metal ones.
Use only outdoor outlets with GFCI protection
Wet weather and electricity don’t play well together. Outdoor outlets are designed to keep connections safe and dry. Current codes require any damp area outlets to have GFCI protection to prevent electrical shock. That includes basements and garages, so don’t run cords from unprotected outlets in those areas.
Don’t overload circuits
Typical household branch circuits are 15 amps, and this is plenty of capacity for normal household use, but adding large numbers of holiday lights and accessories, especially the larger C7 and C9 incandescent bulbs of yesteryear, can put more load on a circuit than it’s designed for. This can lead to annoying trips to the breaker box or fuse panel, but it’s also a warning sign that trouble is lurking. If you keep tripping breakers, if outlets or cords feel warm, or if you notice any off smells around outlets or service panels, disconnect the lights and move them to another circuit to avoid creating a fire hazard.
LED lights come in nearly all sizes, colors, and shapes for holiday lighting, last longer, burn cooler, and draw much less current than incandescent bulbs. We highly recommend them for all your lighting needs.
Don’t exceed extension cord capacity
Extension cords are rated to carry a specific load. When that’s exceeded, the cords can become overheated, melting insulation and causing short circuits and fires. Feel your cords when all the lights have been on for a while. If they feel warm to the touch, replace them with higher capacity cords. Better yet, arrange your lighting near outlets so you don’t need extension cords at all.
Protect cords from damage
Avoid running cords through window or door openings where they might become worn and damaged. Make sure any cords are run safely away from areas where snow and ice removal or vehicle traffic can cause damage.
Protect cords from trip hazards and pets
Run cords away from places they could trip family and visitors.
Dogs and cats love to chew on things, and an exposed cord can be a real temptation. Aside from the risk of accidental electrocution, gnawed-away insulation presents the danger of short circuits and fires. Pets and other critters roam the neighborhood at all hours, so check your electrical cords periodically for damage.
The pros at Allstar Electrical Services want to extend our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a wonderful and joyful holiday season. We look forward to serving your electrical needs through the remainder of the year and many more to come.
Give us a call or visit our web site, allstarelectrical.com, for any of your holiday electrical needs such as adding or upgrading outdoor outlets, adding extra circuits, and for help on your projects in the coming year.