Offers safety advice from Los Angeles Electricians for buying, hanging, running and taking down decorative electric lights inside and outside the home during the winter holiday season.
For many of us the winter holiday season would not be the same without decorations, and that usually includes electric lighting inside and sometimes outside our homes. Earlier this year, the Electric Safety Foundation International conducted a survey and found that over 85% of Americans intended to decorate over the holiday season with a sizable majority planning to run lights outside. Over 60% of respondents said they were going to use an extension cord to power their lights. If you are going to include electric lights in your decorations, make sure you follow the safety advice below from Los Angeles Electricians.
Buying and Testing
- Always buy lights that carry the mark of a recognized testing laboratory so that you can be assured the design is safe. For exterior lighting, use only lights that are certified for outdoor use. They will have better insulation than is required for interior lights.
- Especially if you are reusing lights from previous years, check carefully for any damage such as broken bulbs, cracked sockets, a frayed or split cord, as any of these can give rise to an electric shock. If damaged parts cannot easily be replaced, discard the lights and purchase new ones.
- Plug in strands of lights and test that they are working properly before hanging them on your tree or other structure: it is much easier to replace a broken bulb or fuse when they are on a table!
- If you need to replace a burned out bulb, make sure the lights are unplugged and the replacement is of the correct wattage.
- Think carefully about where you are hanging lights and where the cords will lie, especially if young children are coming to your home, to avoid any trip or shock hazards.
- Do not overload circuits by running more than three sets of lights from one outlet or extension cord and do not run extension cords under carpets or rugs as they can be damaged by footfall.
- Take care when climbing a ladder to hang lights. Although not directly concerned with electricity, many accidents arise from badly positioned or unstable ladders.
- Do not use lights on an artificial tree that has metallic components as any electrical fault could lead to the whole tree becoming live.
- Make sure outdoor lights are securely fixed to your home, tree or other structure and will not come down with the wind. Use insulated staples or hooks rather than nails. Also fix the cord so it does not create a trip hazard.
- Keep lights away from overhead power lines as contact could be very dangerous.
- Outdoor lights should be run from a circuit fitted with a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Portable GFCIs are available for outdoor use, if the circuit you are using is not protected in this way.
- Do not bunch lights closely together or cover bulbs with anything that was not provided with the lights as this may cause overheating, melting and the exposure of live wires.
Running and Taking Down
- Take care when children are in your home and do not let them touch any electric lights.
- Always turn off and unplug the lights before going to bed and when the house is empty.
- Always unplug lights before taking them down. Remove them carefully without pulling as this may damage the lights.
- Pack lights away carefully in their boxes, gently winding the cord without creating kinks. Store them away from any moisture and excessive heat.
If you have any safety concerns, consult your Los Angeles Electricians. They can install GFCI’s for you for permanent security. If you follow this advice, you should enjoy a happy and safe holiday season with a well decorated home. Happy Holidays!