Monday, December 14, 2009

5 Tips for Holiday Light Safety

Decorating you home with holiday-themed lights is a wonderful way to create a festive mood for the Christmas season. However, in order to be able to celebrate the holidays safely, it’s important that you are familiar with some of the safety procedures involved in decorating with holiday lights. If you’re not careful, your holiday lights could become a serious safety hazard.
Tip # 1 – Read the Package!Before purchasing the least expensive type of decorative lights, it’s best if you first read the packaging! Some lights are not rated for outdoor use, or are manufactured by companies that are notorious for producing faulty products. In general, it’s always best to look for a package that states “Tested by UL” or “Tested by ETL”, both of which are reputable testing laboratories.
Tip #2 – Mini Lights are Best.The “classic” style of Christmas lights is the large-bulb type that is still available at most home good stores. However, this type of light burns hot, and has a greater risk of being a fire hazard. Unless you are prepared to take extreme safety precautions, it’s highly recommended that you stick to the mini Christmas lights, which have a much cooler operating temperature.
Tip #3 – Inspect your Lights Before Use.Whether you are purchasing new holiday lights, or using a previously owned set, it’s always highly recommend that you give them a thorough inspection before using them to decorate. When checking your lights, pay attention for:
Loose Connections
Broken or Missing Bulbs
Frayed Wire
Cracked Sockets
Exposed Wire
Defective Operation
By checking your lights, you can reduce the risk that your holiday lights will present a safety hazard. If you find a defect in your lights, either return them to the manufacturer for a refund, or simply throw them away. It’s usually best not to attempt to fix a damaged set of Christmas lights on your own, unless you are a skilled electrician.
Tip #4 – Christmas Tree Safety.If you plan to hang your holiday lights on a live Christmas tree, there are some safety precautions you need to follow. Never hang lights on a dry Christmas tree! This is one of the most common mistakes that results in an accidental fire over the holiday season. To check if your tree is dry, try bending or breaking one of the small twigs on the tree. If it snaps easily, your tree is too dry, and could be a fire hazard.
Always keep a live tree sufficiently watered, as an average size tree may need water refills at least once per day. Don’t ever hang holiday lights on a metal Christmas tree. Metal Christmas trees can become electrically charged, and may electrocute someone who touches a tree. In addition to this, metal trees may also cause electrical holiday lights to short out, which can start a fire.
Tip #5 - Hang Lights Safely Outdoors.Before hanging holiday lights outside, it’s best if you first check to make sure that your lights are rated for outdoor use. Some holiday lights aren’t properly insulated for outdoor use, and may be damaged by exposure to moisture. To prevent your lights from becoming an electrical hazard, always use insulated staples or metal hooks to hang your holiday lights. Be careful not to staple through the insulated wire casing on your lights, since this can present a safety hazard.