The festive holiday season sees many neighborhoods covered in long strands of colorful lights, and it’s not uncommon for homeowners to leave their lights up all year and flip the switch when November rolls around. Habits like this and other unsafe techniques may cause lighting and electrical issues, and homeowners need to consider the safety issues from hanging a string of lights before helping to illuminate the neighborhood.
Consider these essential safety tips for keeping the home and its festive lighting safe during the holidays:
1. Use outdoor lights outdoors
A string of Christmas lights meant for an indoor tree isn’t appropriate for the bushes in front of the house. The outside of the box should mention whether the string of lights is meant for indoor or outdoor presentation. Additionally, never replace any bulbs on a strand of outdoor lights with bulbs designed for indoor lighting.
2. Inspect the wires for broken bulbs and frayed sections
Holiday lights are usually packed up in the garage, attic or basement for almost 11 months of the year, and lights that looked great a year ago could have some fraying or broken bulbs when they’re brought out of storage for the new season. Be sure to inspect every bulb and look closely at the wires to ensure that there are no problems that could cause lighting and electrical mishaps, such as frayed wires or broken bulbs with exposed filaments.
3. Don’t act like Tarzan while hanging the lights
Adults should be the only family members to hang lights from the roof, and using a sturdy ladder is essential since an extraordinary number of injuries occur when a ladder isn’t placed securely on the ground or when it’s too old to bear weight and collapses. If the kids want to help hang Christmas lights, assign them to hanging strands on the bushes. Avoid climbing to the roof if possible, and never try to attach Santa and his reindeer on the roof without assistance from another adult.
4. Inspect the electrical systems
Although a new house might not have old wiring or old electrical services, many homes built in the last mid-century contain wires that are decades old. Wires are usually hidden in the walls and forgotten about for years, and with age the likelihood of a fire hazard increases. The strain of additional holiday lighting may overwhelm an old electrical system. Scheduling an inspection of the home’s wiring may be done yearly, right before the lights are hung.
5. Consider updating the lights
Calling an electrical services company to refurbish all the wires in the home might be a task that’s outside a homeowner’s current budget, but there are ways to reduce the strain on the wiring in an old house. New LED Christmas lights use less power, last longer, and are even designed to mimic the look of incandescent lights. Some retail stores even offer discounts for customers who trade in the old-style lighting for new LED strings. These new LED lights aren’t inexpensive, but with care they should last many years.
Many of the rules of safe holiday lighting are simple common sense, but it’s surprising how many of these guidelines are completely ignored by the average homeowner. A strand of lights doesn’t seem as though it could cause problems, but keeping the home and family safe is much more important than having the brightest home on the block.