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An Electricians Guide To Safe Holiday Lights

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Who doesn’t like bright holiday lights and the good feelings they bring? I think we can all agree that the holidays wouldn’t feel the same without the bright-colored lights that illuminate our homes and lawns.

Unfortunately, the holidays are also the season that causes homeowners put up lights that do not comply with recommended safety standards. If you had to do an internet search for “holiday lights safety tips” you may be surprised by how many safety rules you are breaking.

Safety Tips When Using Holiday Lights

Holiday lights create a warm and festive atmosphere in any home, that is why we love to decorate our walls, windows, roofs, and trees with them. Unfortunately, they can also be a dangerous fire and electrocution hazard if not installed and maintained correctly.

Here are some tips to ensure your holiday lights are safe:

Never Leave Them On Unattended

Always turn them off when you leave home or before you go to bed in the evening. If you are not around to monitor the lights, it is safer to leave them turned off.

Use Lights As Directed

Indoor and outdoor lights are not always interchangeable. Although outdoor lights can be used indoors, the opposite is not true. Outdoor lights are usually clearly labeled and are made to withstand the elements. Indoor lights are more fragile and not designed to withstand the elements. If you have any doubts, only use them indoors.

Even though certain lights are designed to be installed outdoors, it is always wise to shelter them from sun, wind, and rain whenever possible. Outdoor lights must always be connected to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

Discard Old Or Broken Lights

Before hanging your holiday lights, always check that they are in good working order. Ignoring tell-tale signs that your lights should be discarded could result in an electrical fire or electrocution. Signs that your lights are due for retirement include:

  • The wiring is frayed.
  • The fuses have blown.
  • There are numerous loose connections.
  • The bulbs are broken.

Choose The Right Location And Anchoring Equipment

When putting up holiday lights, always think “safety first”. It is a good idea to have a clear plan of where you are going to put the lights and to gather all the tools you need before you start. Things to remember when putting up holiday lights include:

  • Small children and pets must not be able to reach them.
  • They must not be a tripping hazard.
  • They must never be installed near an open flame or flammable materials.
  • Never use staples, tacks, or nails to secure the light strings. Not only will they damage the lights, but the metal components create a dangerous fire hazard. There are specially insulated holders and plastic roof clips designed for the task. When in doubt, feel free to contact an electrician near you for advice.

Consider LED Over Incandescent Lights

Although slightly more expensive, there are many reasons to choose LED over incandescent lighting for your holiday lights this year, including:

  • They last longer
  • They are energy efficient (they use up to 75% less power)
  • They generate less heat, so are safer.
  • They can usually be used indoors and outdoors.

Check The Safety Ratings

Don’t be tempted to buy the no-name bargain lights because they are less expensive. The American National Standards Institute states that to meet national industry standards, the lights must contain the UL Seal. Always check for the safety declaration on the packaging, and the safety labels on the electrical cords.

Don’t Overload The Outlet

The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends no more than three strings per outlet. When in doubt, the packaging will indicate how many strings can run together safely. Electricians also recommend that only one type of light should be plugged into a single outlet. Do not run both LED and incandescent lights from the same outlet.

Do Not Leave Them Up All Year

Even though we love how they make the home look, holiday lights are not designed to be left up all year. For safety reasons, take them down after the festivities are over, examine them for any damage or wear-and-tear, and pack them away safely until next year.

Do Not Put Lights On Living Things

No matter how cute it may look, do not put electrical Christmas lights on your pets or little children. Apart from the danger of electrocution, pets and little children cannot be trusted not to bite the cord or chew the bulbs. There are specific, battery-operated lights available for children and pets.

Ask For Help

Holiday lights are usually installed in difficult-to-reach places. Always ensure you ask for help, especially when on the roof or using a high ladder.

Light Up The Holidays With Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric

Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric has served the residents of South Florida since 1983. We love the holidays, and the festive atmosphere that the lights bring, we also want homes to be electrically safe, as well as bright and beautiful.

Contact us at 1-800-475-1504 today and speak to a team member regarding all our electrical services.


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