At the beginning of the holiday season, homeowners across the country light up their homes with lights, inside and out. Out come the boxes of ornaments, tangled messes of Christmas tree lights, and ladders. But amidst the fun and excitement, visual appeal is often prioritized over electrical safety. In light of this, we’ve got seven tips for homeowners to keep in mind when decorating their home this holiday season.
1. Examine lighting decorations for damage.
You may have a favorite set of lights that you’ve used for as long as you can remember. But when was the last time you inspected it for damage? Discard lights with loose connections, frayed wires and broken or cracked sockets.
2. Create a plan that takes into account power requirements.
Before you start plugging in lights left and right, take a moment to check how many outlets you have and what loads are already on the circuits you plan to use. Be careful not to exceed the power capabilities of the extension cords you are using by making sure the cord is rated equal to or higher than the connected load(s).
3. Make sure your lights and extension cords have a safety certification.
Only use lights and extension cords that are safety-certified by a recognized testing agency, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
4. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for hanging tree lights.
Fasten lights securely to the tree with non conductive wires. Make sure bulbs don’t come into direct contact with needles or branches on natural trees to avoid drying up the tree and creating a fire hazard.
5. Make sure artificial trees are labeled fire retardant or fire resistant.
Never use electrical decorations or light strings on artificial trees that have metallic leaves or branch coverings.
6. Never hang indoor lights outdoors.
Indoor lights are not designed to be waterproof and will not withstand rain or snow. Similarly, outdoor lights emit more heat than indoor lights and could pose a safety risk if placed on a tree.
7. Learn how to use power strips appropriately.
Don’t run electrical cords under carpets or rugs in areas that receive heavy foot traffic. This could cause fraying and overheating.