Whether your home office is now your college-bound kid’s old bedroom or just the dining room table, I’m certain you’ve amassed a pile of stuff that’s collecting dust and dying to be sorted. I can’t lie, this is the kind of project that sprouts a little quote bubble from my head that says, “%$#@&!” But organize, we must.
There’s nothing that can get your holiday spirits up like a house that’s decorated for Christmas. Christmas trees, ornaments, baubles and lights just have a way of making a person feel good. On the other hand, there are some hazards that come with the season. From dangerous décor to poisonous plants, holiday homes are often filled with items that are unsafe for children and pets.
If you’re a regular Zing reader, you probably already know about all the holiday dangers to be found on the inside of your house. But there’s another area you should be concerned about: your outdoor holiday lights display. Icy weather and electrical problems can make setting up and maintaining your fancy display downright dangerous. If you’ll be putting up lights this holiday season, follow these tips to spread Christmas cheer in the safest way possible.
Double Check Your Lights
First thing’s first: You’ll need to make sure your decorations are safe for use. Whether you’re purchasing new lights or reusing last year’s, here are some things to consider.
- Indoor vs. outdoor use: While outdoor lights are generally safe to use indoors, the reverse is not true. Indoor lights don’t have the same insulation that outdoor lights do, and can become dangerous when exposed to the elements. Only use outdoor lights to decorate outdoor spaces.
- Check for damage: Lay out your lights and check them for potential hazards. Pitch any cords that are frayed or cracked, and make sure all sockets have bulbs. Making sure your electrical equipment is up to par will help prevent fires and electric shock.
- Look for safety ratings: According to Cleco, an energy services company, holiday lights should have a UL mark on the box, and a UL holographic label on the strand. The UL stands for “Underwriters Laboratories,” a global, non-profit safety organization; this mark of approval means that the lights have been designed and manufactured to meet industry specifications for safety.
Consider Your Equipment
Whether you’re walking on the roof, balancing a ladder or keeping your two feet planted firmly on the ground, there are a few things you should know.
- Use ladders appropriately: If you’ll be going high to hang those lights, it’s important to follow ladder safety rules. Make sure you’ve got the right ladder for the job, and follow these basic safety tips from LadderSafety.org.
- Use clips, not nails: Don’t use staples, screws or nails to hang holiday lights, as they can pierce electrical wires, creating a hazard. Instead, buy light clips, available at most hardware stores. These ones from Home Depot are super cheap; you can get 100 for just under $11.
Practice Electrical Safety
When it comes to electrical safety, you shouldn’t fool around. Here are some things to think about before you head out the door.
- Always check your surroundings: Keep away from overhead power lines. Don’t even decorate trees that are close to power lines. Enough said!
- Follow manufacturer instructions: There are many (sometimes complicated) electrical rules concerning stuff like how many strands you can connect, the proper way to use extension cords, etc. Always follow manufacturer instructions to make sure you’re using lights in the safest way possible.
- Set a timer: Don’t leave your lights on all night, and don’t leave them on when you’re away from the house. Setting your Christmas lights to operate on a timer can help prevent fires (and lighten your electricity bill).
Comments, questions, concerns? We want to hear ‘em all! Leave a comment below to give your two cents on putting up Christmas lights. And if you’re looking for more fabulous tips to hang your holiday lights, check out this Zing post.