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.

Your Girl Putting Up Christmas Lights

Outdoor Holiday Decoration Safety Tips

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 the 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.

Outdoor Christmas Lights Safety Tips

Make outdoor Christmas lighting a fun activity with your loved ones. With Christmas just around the corner, you want to make sure that decorating your home is just as safe as exciting. Did you know that over hundreds of homes suffer from faulty electrical wiring during the Christmas Holidays? Make sure that you are using the right equipment and that you are installing your Christmas lights the right way. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Try using low-voltage light bulbs: Keep in mind that Christmas lights burn more electricity than regular light bulbs. Therefore, it is probably a good idea to use light bulbs that are low in voltage to avoid any potential electrical problems.
  • Keep your Christmas lights far from fire hazards: Make sure that your light decorations are placed in a safe place, in order to avoid the possibility of a fire. Although this may seem unlikely, it is a common phenomenon, but one that can be avoided by taking the right precautionary measures.

  • Use Christmas lights that are specifically meant for outdoor use: Oftentimes, homeowners will place Christmas lights that are designated for indoor use outside. Make sure to read the light specifications to avoid doing so in order to ensure your lights' longevity. Lights that were made for indoors may be unable to withstand certain weather conditions, and the last thing you want is your lights going off on Christmas day!

  • Avoid plugging too many lights into one extension cord: Connecting too many lights into a single extension cord can cause your extension to blow out. Try connecting no more than two or three lights to an extension at once, for optimal results.

Indoor Holiday Decoration Safety Tips

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!