Christmas is a favorite and beloved time of the year for many of us. And in 2020, many of us probably look forward to the Christmas season more than ever. The season is upon us, and for some, that means holiday decorating and our annual Christmas light display. While the coronavirus might put a damper in some of our plans, the one thing we can do is decorate to our heart’s content. But, not so fast. It’s best to review a few standard rules of thumb to help make your decorating efforts a safe and festive event.
Christmas brings so much joy to so many. Preparing for the season and decorating is something we anticipate all year round. Food, family, and fun are the perfect trio, and nothing brings us together as holidays do. While many of us won’t be heading out this Christmas season as much as we’d like, there’s one activity that can still put a smile on our faces, and that’s looking at the Christmas light displays throughout the city of Houston and in our neighborhoods. Many of us like to partake in this simple delight.
The electrical experts and lighting designers at Illuminations Lighting Design wish to take this time to wish you and yours the merriest and safest Christmas season yet. Though we’ve had our challenges in 2020, we know we will get through this. We want to help you have a happy and safe holiday season by reminding you of a few electrical safety tips for Christmas.
Electrical Safety During Christmas
Your Christmas tree, decorations and lights, and heat to warm you up during the cold days are all blessings. But, we’d like to remind you about a few things to keep you and your family safe.
Unfortunately, fresh Christmas trees are a factor in home fires each year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 160 fires to home between 2013-2017 that were Christmas-tree related. These fires cause death and injury to homeowners each year and are preventable.
Remember that real trees, fresh garland, and pine dry out quickly, especially when the heater is run indoors. You’ll want to make sure your tree has fresh water each day and keep it as far away from heat sources as possible. This includes fireplaces, heaters, vents, and candles. You might even think of making sure your home has a fire extinguisher within close reach of your tree.
Before putting lights on your tree, take the time to check each strand of lights for broken bulbs. You should also ensure that there’s no fraying around the cords.
Avoid leaving Christmas lights on unattended or while you sleep. Lights give off heat and can quickly spark a fire on a Christmas tree, especially if it’s dry. It’s also a good idea to use LED lights as they generate less heat.
Outdoor Light Displays
If you decorate the outside of your home and enjoy creating a light display, it’s a good idea to avoid overloading your outlets. Remember that you’re probably plugging lights in and using them around the trees of your yard and parts of your home’s exterior, like its doorways, rooftop, and driveway.
Make sure you have enough electrical outlets and circuits to handle the task. To increase safety measures, use only ground fault outlets. This can help ensure that your home will stay safer, especially if the lights get wet. You’ll also want to place extension cords out of the way so that they don’t become a tripping hazard.
Also, avoid the use of staples or nails when hanging Christmas lights outside. Nails and staples can easily go through the wires and expose them, leading to a fire. Before using any lights outdoors, make sure they’re intended for outdoor use. Some lights are only meant for indoor use.
When you’ve taken your lights down at the end of the season, inspect them closely for exposed wire or other forms of deterioration. You may have to replace the lights and avoid using them again. Otherwise, they could be a fire hazard.
Electrical Safety Tips at a Glance
Here’s a recap of some of the previous tips and a few other helpful tips as well:
- Make sure you have GFCI outlets. These outlets shut off the circuit when it’s overloaded. Consider calling an electrician to determine if your outlets meet this specification.
- Determine that your home’s electrical panel can safely handle the number of holiday lights you plan to use. Once again, an electrician can help with this.
- Read the lighting product’s safety guidelines before use and follow them.
- Only use extension cords and outside lights that are meant for use outdoors. Look for UL to be labeled on the tag, which means that it has been evaluated for its safety.
- Plug all Christmas lights in before using them to look for broken and non-working bulbs.
- Replace any burnt-out bulbs by using bulbs with the same wattage. Only change bulbs when the string of lights is unplugged.
- Place cords of lights away from walking hazards.
- Keep connections for extension cords away from moisture and above the ground. Avoid overloading extension cords.
- Avoid pulling on cords when unplugging, which can damage the insulation and wire. Unplug cords from the plug to reduce the risk of fire caused by a damaged cord.
- Always throw away damaged lights, frayed, broken, or cracked wires, and loose connections.
- Choose LED lights over standard lighting. It’s more cost-effective by saving on electricity and it generates less heat, which reduces the risk of fire.
Remember that decking the halls, as well as the rest of your Houston home, with strings of Christmas lights is all wonderful when safety rules are followed. But it could be bad news if just one rule is broken because fires are serious business. Christmas light displays are beautiful and nostalgic, but they can be a hazard if not handled with care.
Our electrical experts can advise you on the best practices for electrical safety and Christmas decorating. Let us help you get ready for the holidays! Contact us at 713-863-1133. We wish you a safe and happy Christmas and hope for a better New Year to come.