With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to start preparing for the holiday season. Even if your kids and grandkids decide not to drop in this year, you still may want to make sure that your home is merry inside and out.
This means setting up the Christmas tree, filling your home with twinkling decorations, and stringing up the lights.
But installing Christmas decorations requires some careful planning. Many home fires start with Christmas trees and decorations. Luckily, it doesn’t take much to prevent such disasters. You don’t necessarily need to be an electrician to put up Christmas lights, but you must know how to do it safely.
Knowing how to properly set up Christmas decorations could be the difference between a cozy family Christmas dinner and marshmallow roasting over an open fire in the backyard.
Inspect the condition of last year’s Christmas lights before you plug them in. Check for sockets without bulbs, wires poking through the insulation, and frayed or cracked cords.
Just a small nick on a wire can cause problems, even though it seems negligible. Damage to a light bulb or cord can cause a fire or electric shock when plugged in.
Compared to incandescent bulbs, LED lights are cool to the touch and use less electricity. On top of being safer, they will lower your power bill.
You could prevent your Christmas tree from catching fire if you switch to LED lights, since most Christmas tree fires are caused by overheated lights.
Even though LED lights are a safer choice, they can still overheat. Your Christmas tree is much more likely to catch fire if it is dry. A properly watered tree, on the other hand, is much less flammable.
To prevent your tree from drying out, make sure to water it every day. To stay fresh, a six-foot Christmas three requires at least one gallon of water daily. Some trees are thirstier than others, so the amount of water they require can vary, but the water level in the stand should always be above the base of the three.
If this is too big of a hassle for you, you can get a tree watering system. If you are not adamant about having a traditional Christmas tree, you can get an artificial one that has been treated with a fire retardant.
You’re probably asking yourself, “what the heck is a GFCI outlet?” GFCI outlets are designed for electrical systems that could be exposed to wet conditions, such as snow or water.
We use them outdoors as well as in kitchens, garages, and bathrooms. To protect your home from electric shorts and to protect yourself from getting electrocuted, you should use GFCI outlets for your outdoor Christmas decoration.
You may already have GFCI outlets installed in the right places, or you may need to have them installed. If you don’t have any outdoor outlets, don’t be tempted to run the cords through doors or windows. It’s best to hire an electrician.
An electrician can check whether you already have GFCI outlets, inspect them, and install new ones if needed. To be extra safe, they can also check your home’s earthing system.
You may overdraw power and cause serious damage to your electrical wiring if you plug in too many devices in the same outlet or extension cord.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t plug in more than three strings of Christmas lights into one outlet. However, the electrical circuit still sets the maximum limit. Generally, each circuit or outlet shouldn’t exceed 1,500 watts.
You need to know the amount of power you’re placing on a circuit or outlet, so be sure to check the wattage in the user’s manual of your Christmas lights.
Instead of using your wall outlet, it’s much safer to use a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker. In case of a short circuit or overload, a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker will interrupt the electric current. You can buy one online or at your local hardware store.
When you’re shopping for electrically powered Christmas decorations, look for products that include the UL Safety Certification. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories – an independent product safety certification organization.
Christmas lights that are UL-certified are much safer to use. If your lights are older than a few years and don’t have this label, you may want to consider buying new ones that do.
Check whether the lights are intended for indoor or outdoor use. When you’re out there shopping for Christmas lights and decoration, check for disclaimers that read “For indoor and outdoor use” or “For indoor use only.”
Unlike indoor lights, outdoor Christmas lights are insulated against outdoor elements and the cold.
If some of your Christmas decorations require you to use a ladder, it’s best to recruit the help of a more agile neighbor or family member.
If you insist on climbing the ladder yourself, you should still have someone who will hold the ladder for stability. You don’t want to fall and get injured right before Christmas – or at any time, really.
When you’re working with Christmas lights, consider using a fiberglass or wooden ladder. This will protect you from an electric shock.
Don’t use screws or nails to secure Christmas lights when you are hanging them on your roof. You risk getting electrocuted if you puncture a wire with a nail or screw.
Use clips to secure the lights onto the house. You can find light clips at any hardware store. To avoid falling and tripping, you can secure loose light strands with electrical tape.
When it comes to Christmas decoration, you can never be too cautious. But no matter how careful you are, it can be difficult for the untrained eye to detect all the potential safety hazards.
Just to be on the safe side, consider hiring a local fire damage restoration expert to conduct a safety inspection in your home and offer you a few words of advice. If you have overlooked a safety hazard, you needn’t worry. They will spot it very quickly.
Have you put up your Christmas decoration already? Did you follow any safety precautions? Have you set up both indoor and outdoor lights? How did you go about each? Have you hired professionals to inspect your electrical system? Please share with the community!