Holiday Lighting & Decoration Safety: A Complete Guide

Lights? Check. Ornaments? Check. Inflatable lawn decorations? Check. It’s the most wonderful time of the year and that means it’s time to gather your family and get to work decorating. There’s not much better than being able to express your creativity as a family by making your home and your yard sparkle for the holidays, but things can quickly go south. After all, more than 86% of Americans decorate their homes for the holidays and more than 60% of those who decorate, make use of at least one extension cord which brings us to sharing some imperative safety precautions.

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Outdoor Holiday Decoration Safety

This is your opportunity to make your home stand out from the rest! But before you get up on the ladder to hang the lights and before you run electrical cords across the lawn to those large inflatables, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • All outdoor lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by GFCIs, or ground fault circuit interrupters. This will help keep your devices and your electrical system safe from the elements.

  • Make sure everything you plan on using outside is in fact, labeled for outdoor use.

  • Avoid using staples, nails or screws to fasten lights and decorations to the house or to nearby trees. Instead, we recommend using hooks or tape to avoid puncturing electrical lines or wires.

  • Check to make sure amperage of the electrical devices you’re using match the amperage rating of extension cords and outlets.

  • If you need to use a ladder for any reason, opt for a wooden or fiberglass ladder rather than one made from metal. Metal ladders conduct electricity and can put you right in the middle of harm’s way.

  • Always use a spotter when climbing a ladder. Falls are quite common even when you think you’ve secured the ladder yourself.

  • Be mindful of overhead power lines. Be sure to keep yourself, your family and all of your equipment at least 10 feet away.

  • Remember to turn off or unplug all decorations before you head to sleep for the night.

Indoor Holiday Decoration Safety

Whether you’re hosting the holidays at home this year, or plan on heading to a relative’s, be mindful of these safety tips before, during and after decorating the interior of your home:

  • Keep all decorations at least 3 feet away from all heat sources inside the house. This includes air vents, fireplaces, candles and cooking appliances.

  • Never run electrical cords or wires underneath carpets or through doorways.

  • Inspect light strings for any signs of damage. This includes broken bulbs, fraying or cracking.

  • Refrain from attaching more than 3 strands of lights. It’s best to use additional outlets should you need more than 3 strands in any area of the house.

  • If possible, replace older incandescent lights with LED bulbs. LEDs produce very little to no heat at all and are therefore much safer than older bulbs.

  • If you have a live tree, be sure to water it daily to keep it from drying out. Dry trees are more susceptible to heat and can instantly go up in flames.

  • Only use lights and decorations in dry areas of the house. We recommend avoiding areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, and remember to keep all electrical devices away from sinks.

  • Always unplug or turn off all lights and decorations before going to sleep.

And remember, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to need outlets, switches and/or timers installed especially around the holidays. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and when it comes to electrical safety, we’ve got your back!

We are Waukegan’s premier provider of residential and commercial electrical services that boasts more than 85 years of experience. Need electrical service this holiday? Don’t hesitate to call the experts at Hucker Electric!

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