Outdoor Christmas lights can light up your home – and your mood – for the holidays, but they can also pose a risk if basic precautions are ignored.
Each year, fires caused from electrical issues result in millions of dollars worth of damage, not to mention the death that can very often occur.
And while outdoor displays aren’t nearly as combustible as Christmas trees can be, it’s still important to follow some basic guidelines to minimize the risk of fire from outdoor Christmas lights.
When hanging up your outdoor lights, follow these Christmas safety tips to avoid the risk of fire.:
1. Test and examine your lights
It’s always smart to plug your string of lights into an outlet before you hang them. Check each bulb by hand to ensure that all of them are securely positioned in their housing.
Look at the electrical line itself for any missing insulation, and/or sockets that look melted or dented; any of these conditions could lead to a short circuit, potentially leading to a fire.
Don’t attempt to repair a damaged electrical cord; just toss them and buy replacement lights.
2. Use quality lights
While more expensive than the cheaper lights, the longevity of quality lights will more than make up for the initial cost.
Look for strings of lights with 22-gauge (AWG) wiring, inline fuses at the plug (to prevent overheating) and strong connectors.
Also, check the UL label to ensure that the lights are rated for outdoor uses.
3. Use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting (GFCI) outlet
In the event that your circuit is overloaded the fuse at the GFCI will trip, breaking the connection and protecting your home against fire.
4. Limit the length of your lights
In most homes, the circuits can handle about 15 to 20 amps, so in most cases you’re fine.
However, remember that you have other things pulling electricity through your wires so you want to limit the amperage that is being pulled through your outdoor lighting.
When possible, connect your outdoor lights to an outlet that is rarely, if ever used, such as an exterior outlet (assuming the outlet is on its own circuit).
Most holiday light manufacturers recommend no more than three strings of incandescent lights be hung together on the same circuit. LED sets of lights can be longer, but always keep track of how many light strands to avoid overload.
5. Secure your outdoor lights
When running your light strings outside, secure them to a stable surface with plastic light mounting clips or hooks. Never use nails or staples as it could lead to damage of the insulation on the wires.
Note: When putting up your lights, stay well away from electrical lines that connect to your home to avoid risk of injury.
6. Pay attention to ladder safety
To use a ladder safely it must be on stable ground and positioned about one foot per every four feet you go up. Always have someone hold your ladder steady, and keep in the center of the ladder.
Don’t overreach. It’s worth taking the minute to come back down the ladder and reposition it and never stand on the top rung.
Avoid hanging lights if it’s sprinkling or raining outside for several reasons.:
- ⬥ It’s miserable…who wants to work on a rainy day?
- ⬥ Your ladder will get slippery
- ⬥ Your light prongs can get wet causing sparks to fly
- ⬥ Adhesive clips won’t stick if the surface is wet
More holiday decorating ideas can be found here: