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Christmas Light Safety Guide

Sometimes it feels like we’re just sprinting from one holiday season to the next. With the change in season comes the change in housing décor. Even if you don’t decorate for the rest of the year, Christmas lights are broken out in the winter by almost everyone. Unfortunately, string lights and decorating for Christmas are the cause of many accidents and home fires every winter season. This doesn’t have to be the case, however.

Christmas Decorating Safety:

  • Avoid candles – use LED candles instead
  • Never plug in more than 2 or 3 strings of
    incandescent LEDs at once
  • Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs
  • When climbing ladders, stand on a stable surface
    and work with a partner
  • Never overextend while on a ladder, climb down
    and move the ladder
  • Keep small decorations out of reach of small
  • Don’t place flammable items (tablecloths,
    curtains, blankets) over bulbs or lamps

Of course, Christmas, holiday, and even year-round decorations are moving more toward electrical systems. Some are projected, others are simply carefully programmed light strings, but all of them use your house’s electrical grid. Just because they’re simple lights doesn’t mean you should be lax about how they’re connected. Even LEDs begin to tax an electrical system once you place too many of them on a single circuit.

Both the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Electrical Safety Foundation International work to promote safety around the holidays. When it comes to electrical cables a few quick tips are to:

  • Outdoor lights should use outdoor rated
    extension cords
  • Any lights used outside should be plugged into
    GFCI receptacles and sockets
  • Turn off all lights before leaving your home or
    going to sleep
  • Keep high powered incandescents and spotlights
    well ventilated
  • Never put flammable materials close to high
    powered lights
  • Inspect all lights and decorations for damage
    prior to use (e.g. frays, damaged insulation, broken bulbs)
  • Never overload an outlet – multiple light
    strands on a power strip can be as bad as multiple lights on a single run

Remember, it’s better to be safe than a statistic. Many people are injured from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day because of falls, shocks, and household fires.