With the fall season in full swing, this means the holidays are just around the corner. This festive time of the year is all about quality time with family and friends, great food, good times and, of course, decorations. Whether your decorating goal is to be the brightest attraction in the neighborhood or something subtler, safety should always be a priority.
Learn what electrical safety measures you can take this and every holiday season.
Choose the Correct Light Style
The outside of your home can be just as bright and festive as the inside, but safety must take center stage. Even if two sets of lights look the same, this does not mean they are. Holiday lights have either an outdoor or indoor rating. Indoor lights are only for use inside, as they are not designed to withstand exposure to the elements and can quickly catch on fire when wet.
Outdoor lights are more flexible in that their durable encasement makes them safe for use in any weather, yet they are still useable indoors. If you want to stay on the safe side, stick with outdoor lights.
Test Your Lights
Although you might be eager to put your design ideas in motion, it’s important to take some time to test your lights if you plan to use decorations from a previous year. To check your lights, plug them in and let them remain on for a few moments. Not only do you want to look for any dead bulbs, you also want to hold the fixture in your hand.
While it’s normal for lights to heat up, they should not be hot to the touch after just a few moments of operation. Any fixtures that heat up this quickly should not be used, as there is likely an internal wiring problem.
Consider this: If the lights heat up after just a few minutes of operation, imagine how hot they’ll become after hours of use. A hot light can burn any surface it touches and start a fire.
Use Extension Cords With Caution
If your mantra for the holiday season is to go big or go home, it’s virtually impossible to pull off your design idea without using extension cords. However, if you must use extension cords, make certain you’re going about it the right way. First, never run an extension cord from the inside of your home to the outside. Every time the cord is closed in the door or window, its outer layer frays, which will expose the internal wires and create a serious fire hazard. Second, only use extension cords with an outdoor rating outside. Lastly, never plug an extension cord into another extension cord. It’s safer to purchase one long cord than to use multiple cords.
Store Lights the Right Way
Get an early start on next years’ festivities by storing your holiday lights the safe way. All outdoor lighting fixtures should remain in the garage for a few days after removal. This step becomes especially important if it rained or snowed just before the lights were taken down.
Moisture and an airtight container is never a winning combination for electrical devices, including lights, and mixing the two can damage an entire light. You won’t likely be aware of the damage until you plug in the lights and discover they don’t work. Depending on the extent of the damage, the lights could spark and could even cause a fire.
Don’t store lights in damp spaces, such as a basement or an attic. Opt instead for a climate-controlled area of the home.