Holiday Lighting Safety Tips

December 8, 2020

With the holidays just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about how you’re going to decorate your Seattle, WA, home. While all types of decorations are certainly special, what really sets them off are beautiful strings of lights. To ensure your holiday season is delightful instead of disastrous, though, it’s vital that you use your lights safely so electrical overloads or fires don’t occur. Here are a few ways we recommend keeping your holiday lighting in check.

Assess Your Power Sources

Before you begin stringing lights on your home or tree, it’s important to assess the power sources you plan to use. Specifically, you’ll want to determine whether the selected power sources can provide enough amps to safely power your holiday lighting display. If you discover your power requirements exceed what you have available, you’ll want to call Brennan Electric to have extra circuits installed so you don’t overload the existing circuits.

Assess Your Equipment

Since your holiday lights spend most of the year in storage, they can be exposed to harsh conditions that can lead to unexpected wear and tear. That’s why it’s crucial to inspect all of your lighting equipment before you plug any of them in. You’ll want to make sure the electrical cords are flexible and that they don’t have any nicks or fraying. It’s also important to check for any broken bulbs that will need to be replaced before you begin the work of decorating. Lastly, inspect all of your power strips to ensure they’re not missing any components that could cause a safety hazard.

Use Lights Properly

When decorating your home, you can’t just put any light string anywhere you want. That’s because some strings of lights are rated for indoor and outdoor use while others are only rated for indoor use. Outdoor-rated lights feature extra waterproofing to help prevent moisture from getting to the electrical contacts. Therefore, if you plan on using lights outside, make sure you use outdoor-rated lights. Otherwise, the lights could short out, resulting in damage you may need help from Brennan Electric to repair.

Use Newer Lights

It used to be that you could practically heat a room with the warmth from the lights on a Christmas tree. While those older lights certainly have an element of nostalgia, they aren’t exactly the safest type of lights to use. On the other hand, newer lights stay completely cool when they’re on, even if you leave them on for several hours. Thus, whether you have a real tree or an artificial tree, you can be sure that the lights you decorate the tree with won’t cause a fire hazard when you use newer lights.

Protect Your Tree

Even if you’re using newer lights, though, it’s still important to protect your tree. Although real trees are far more susceptible to catching on fire, artificial trees still pose a minor risk if they’re used incorrectly. When it comes to real trees, keeping the tree watered regularly is the most important thing you can do.

You’ll want to check the water levels every day, especially for the first few days after you bring the tree home. Also, if you notice the tree beginning to die, make sure to use lights sparingly, if at all. For all types of trees, we recommend that you only turn on the lights when you’re home and awake so you can react quickly if a problem should occur.

Be Careful With Cords

Cords are a necessary part of any holiday lighting display. In most cases, you’ll need at least one extension cord to be able to safely route power where it’s needed. Although extension cords are useful, they can also add extra risk. That’s why it’s important to use them safely.

One important rule is not to overload an extension cord. Make sure to check the power rating for cords and then ensure that you stay well below the power ratings. A cord that’s at the edge of its design specifications can become warm to the touch, which can lead to a fire hazard if the cord becomes restricted by a rug or piece of furniture.

Test Your Lights

It’s a time-honored tradition: testing your lights before they go on the tree. After all, you don’t want to find out later that they don’t work and have to take them off. More than for the sake of convenience, though, testing your lights ahead of time is a great way to stay safe.

If a string of lights has a major problem to the point that it shorts out when you plug it in, it’s much safer to have this happen before the lights go on the tree. After all, the pros at Brennan Electric know that it only takes one spark from a faulty string of lights to start a tree fire. Play it safe and smart, then, and test your lights before you put them up.

Be Ladder Aware

Hanging holiday lights often involves climbing a ladder. Whether you’re hanging lights on your gutters or decorating the top of a tall tree, a ladder is an important tool to add that extra special something to your holiday decor. When using a ladder, though, make sure you take all the proper safety precautions so you don’t spend the holidays in a cast.

Make sure to use shoes that have plenty of tread on them so you can easily grip the rungs of the ladder. You’ll also want to avoid working on days when any type of precipitation is falling to ensure the ladder doesn’t become slick. Plus, make sure someone is nearby while you’re working on the ladder so you can receive immediate attention if an accident does occur.

Watch Those Ornaments

When hanging ornaments on your tree, there’s always one or two spaces on the tree you can’t seem to get to look just right. With no branch tips to hang the ornaments on, some people resort to hanging ornaments on the electric wires for their light strings. As you can imagine, though, this is something we at Brennan Electric advise against.

One risk is that the sharp ornament hooks could puncture the insulation on the outside of the cords, putting you at risk of an electric shock. Plus, by weighing down the cord, you put extra stress on the light fixtures, which could cause them to break. Therefore, if you can’t seem to fill a certain hole, get creative instead of using your tree’s electrical cords.

Always Here for You

No matter what time of year it is, Brennan Electric is always available to keep you safe and comfortable. That’s why we offer a full range of electrical services, including electrical panel installation, electrical repairs, lighting installation, solar panel installation, generator installation, and surge protection installation. We’ve been taking care of Seattle for over 30 years with fast, reliable service, earning us the Angie’s List Super Service Award and countless five-star reviews. If you want more advice on staying safe this holiday season, please contact us at Brennan Electric today.

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