As Covid-19 restrictions ease this holiday season, festive outdoor lighting is a great way to celebrate long overdue gatherings. But just as we continue to take precautions against the pandemic, careful practices are called for in hanging your outdoor lights for the season.
Here are some tips to keep you safe while showing you’re ready to welcome the holidays.
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 ice, loose dirt, and gravel, and whether you’re on foot or on a ladder, icy spots are accidents waiting to happen.
Always stay safely away from power lines when using and moving ladders and using tools.
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. Besides outdoor locations, that includes basements and garages, so don’t run cords outdoors from unprotected outlets in those and other areas of your home.
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 larger C7 and C9 incandescent bulbs, can put more load on a circuit than it’s designed for. This can lead to annoying trips to the breaker box 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, including replicas of the incandescents of yesteryear. They last longer, burn cooler, draw much less current than incandescent bulbs, and may keep you from overloading a circuit. We highly recommend them for all your lighting needs.
Don’t exceed extension cord capacity
When choosing extension cords, be sure to use ones rated for outdoor use. They’re often colored green to blend in with vegetation but check the packaging to be certain.
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. Same goes for many wild animals. 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.
If you need upgraded or additional outdoor outlets or any other electrical work to get ready for the holidays, give Allstar Electrical Services a call at 303.399.7420 or visit our website. We’re top-rated by the Better Business Bureau and a preferred contractor by Angi’s Home Advisor. We continue to offer our services throughout the holiday season in compliance with COVID-19 best practices.
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 for many more to come.