As you start to plan your Christmas, your mind may turn to the outdoor decorations and that all-important street view. But while you’re sorting out your decorating ideas for the winter season, keep these safety tips in mind. Installing outdoor lighting, in particular, can be dangerous so consider hiring a professional.
The do’s of holiday lighting
DO thoroughly check your electrical system. Inspect the plugs and outlets you’ll be using. If there’s heating and sparking in the socket, call an electrician. If your lights have loose or bare wires, don’t use them.
DO check your lights. Before installing your Christmas lights, plug them in to make sure all of your bulbs are working.
DO use the proper outlets for outdoor decorations (in fact, any outdoor electrical stuff, period) using a ground-fault circuit interrupter, which will automatically cut off the power in the event of a spike or short.
DO make sure you have someone with you when you’re using a ladder. Even for an easy job, have someone on hand to steady the ladder and keep an eye out for your safety.
DO consider hiring professional help. If you don’t want to invest in the cost of a holiday decorating service, try calling a professional local roofer who has plenty of experience working outside on ladders and often hang lights in the off-season.
DO consider using magnetic hooks. Lights mounted using magnetic clips may have a few more limitations, such as only installing on metal, but they’re easier to install and safer to use.
DO invest in LED bulbs.
Although they cost more up front, you’ll save money in the long run, as they last 12 times longer than traditional bulbs.
The don’ts of holiday lighting
Don’t install your lights on trees that come in contact with power lines.
DON’T nail or staple through electrical wires or cords. (It’s surprising how many people do this.)
DON’T overload the power. If your lights constantly trip the circuit breaker or GFCI, you probably have too many lights.
DON’T use extension cords unwisely. Do not run them under rugs, around furniture legs or across doorways. Be sure you put safety covers on any unused outlet or extension cord plug – you don’t want children fooling around with them. Tape cords across walkways while in use.
DON’T hire a contractor without checking their insurance and workers’ comp. Hanging holiday lights, like any other job involving a ladder, has a higher risk of injury than most other household jobs, and you don’t want to be held responsible for their medical bills.
DON’T mix up outdoor and indoor lights. Outdoor lights burn hotter than indoor lights, so don’t hang lights inside if they’re meant for the outdoors.
DON’T leave your lights on all through the night. Add a timer, so you don’t have to worry about wasting energy.