Don’t flip the switch to show off your dazzling Christmas lights before you take a quick look at these safety tips. Don’t cut corners — you are risking damage to your family, roof and house.
- Before hanging the first light, check them carefully for cracked cords, frayed ends or loose connections.
- A combination of shorts in electrical lights together with a dry tree, could burn your house down. Check the lights before hanging them up, and make sure your tree is watered each day.
- Get rid of your old lights that have no fused plugs. Use of the new safer plugs will prevent sparks in the event of a short circuit.
- Replace burned out bulbs quickly, and make sure you use the correct replacement wattage.
- Make sure that outdoor lights are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to reduce the risk of shorts and shocks.
- Frequently check extension cords to make sure they are not overheating. By touch test, you can gauge whether they are too hot. If they are hot, unplug.
- Use insulated hooks instead of tacks, nails or screws to hang lights. You want to make sure you do not pierce the cable and get electrified.
- If you are running extension cords along the ground, make sure to elevate plugs and connectors with a brick to keep snow, water and debris out of the connectors.
- Check to make sure lights have been rated by a testing laboratory. You can check the list of federally recognized labs on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s web site.
- Tape the extension cords down to prevent people from tripping over them.
- Make sure you use outdoor lights outside; indoor lights have thinner insulation, which can become cracked and damaged when exposed to the weather elements.
- Don’t leave your lights on when you are not at home or when you go to sleep.
- Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
- When packing up your lights at the end of the season, make sure to store them in well-sealed containers to prevent possible water damage. It’s also a good time to check out the condition of the cords and bulbs to get a jump on next year’s decorating. Chances are you could get replacements on sale.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there has been a significant rise in fires caused by Christmas decorations. This is a season of joy – don’t spend it putting out fires. Happy Holidays.