Red lights. Green lights. Twinkle lights. Lights that flash in rhythm. Lights that hang like icicles. Lights tangled up in trees . . . The holidays are here once again and, if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to hang up your Christmas lights. Before you get started though, take a moment to think about Christmas light safety. Whether you’re hanging your lights indoors or outdoors, up in the trees or strung across bookshelves, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
Christmas Light Safety Tips
BEFORE YOU PUT UP YOUR LIGHTS . . .
- Check that there aren’t any frayed ends, cracked cords, or loose connections. If your lights are damaged, don’t try to repair them. Throw them away and purchase a replacement set.
- If your old lights don’t have fuse plugs, stop using them and buy a new set. All modern lights are equipped with fuse plugs, which prevent sparks if a short circuit occurs.
- If you notice any burnt-out bulbs, replace them promptly.
- When replacing light bulbs, be sure to use the correct wattage.
- Outdoor electrical outlets are exposed to the elements. If your outdoor outlets don’t already have a protective cover, consider adding one. Also, be sure that you use outlets equipped with a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outside, so that if water, dirt, or debris creeps inside the receptacle, the risk of a short circuit or shock will be reduced.
- Although you see similar lights indoors and outdoors, not all indoor lights are approved for outdoor use. Be sure that the package specifies that they are safe to use outside before you hang them up. Indoor lights are built with thinner insulation that will become damaged if left out in the cold.
WHEN HANGING CHRISTMAS LIGHTS . . .
- Fasten your lights securely to trees, your roof, a lamppost, etc., so that they aren’t jostled and damaged by strong gusts of wind.
- Don’t rely heavily on extension cords, as they sometimes overheat. If you notice that a cord is hot, unplug it. Also, try not to connect more than three sets of lights to one extension cord.
- Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
- Use insulated hooks to hang up your lights, not tacks, screws, or nails, all of which can cut through the cord’s insulation and endanger you and your home.
- If you’re running a cord across the ground, be sure that it is secure and don’t place it in an area of heavy foot traffic, where it may cause someone to trip.
- Cords running along the ground outside should be kept elevated so that they aren’t damaged by water or debris.
AFTER YOUR LIGHTS ARE UP . . .
- Always turn off your lights when you’re asleep or away from home.
- At the end of the holiday season, pack up your lights properly. Wind them around something so that they don’t get tangled and secure them in a container with a lid. The container should be resilient to both water and wandering pests.
Beautiful as they are, Christmas lights can be dangerous if they are not purchased, installed, and stored properly. Follow our Christmas light safety tips to ensure that your holidays are both merry and bright.
And you might have noticed that we neglected to mention the big green elephant in the room (i.e., the Christmas tree). Check back in next week for some Christmas light safety tips that focus primarily on Christmas trees.