Decorating for Christmas is a fun tradition for many!
While lights and other holiday decorations can add a festive appeal to your Arizona home this Christmas season, electrical safety should always come first.
Minimize the risk of fire and electric shock with these 12 electrical and lighting safety tips for Christmas.
- Buy the right tree: If you’re shopping for a new artificial Christmas tree, find one labeled “fire retardant.” This doesn’t mean the tree can’t catch on fire, but it slows the spread of flames and gives you more time to extinguish it. If you’re using a real tree, pick a fresh one with needles that bend rather than break. Cut the trunk to give it a new end, and water the tree all December long.
- Read Christmas light labels: Only purchase strands with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo. This means the lights have been verified by this third-party testing company. Also, if you plan to use lights outside, make sure they’re rated for outdoor use.
- Hang lights on insulated hooks: Securing lights with nails, screws, or tacks poses the risk of piercing the cord’s insulation and causing electric shock. Hang your lights using insulated hooks to avoid this hazard. To prevent wind damage, fasten outdoor lights securely to the house, trees, support posts, or other structures.
- Test your lights: Make sure the lights are functioning properly before hanging them up. If any bulbs are burned out, unplug the string before replacing them. Check for frayed wires or cracked cords, and throw away any strands that appear damaged.
- Use extension cords safely: Christmas lights don’t draw much power, but old extension cords can still overheat. Touch the cords periodically to make sure they don’t feel hot. Also, be careful not to run cords under furniture or rugs, which could lead to overheating. When using extension cords outside, keep the plugs clear of snow and standing water.
- Don’t overload wall sockets with too many lights: The US Department of Energy says it’s safe to connect 25 energy-efficient LED light strands together. However, the Electrical Safety Foundation cautions against connecting more than three strings of old-fashioned incandescent Christmas lights. If you’re still using these, consider upgrading to LED lights this year, which use less energy, run cooler, and are easier to install because you can run so many end-to-end.
- Determine outlet locations before you begin decorating: You may have grand plans for decorating your house, but first, find out how many outlets you have available and where they are located. Then, plan your displays accordingly, remembering not to overload any outlets with too many lights.
- Don’t let the lights run 24/7: Not only does this waste electricity, but it also causes a safety issue. Unplug your lights when you leave home or go to sleep. You can also plug the decorations into a timer or light sensor, so they turn on and off automatically.
- Plug outdoor lights into ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs): GFCI outlets protect against electric shock if water enters the outlet. If you’re not sure whether your outlets are GFCI-protected, have an electrician take a look. It’s possible to replace your existing outlets with GFCIs so you can enjoy your outdoor holiday decorations without causing an electrical hazard.
- Exercise ladder safety: Use a wood or fiberglass (not metal) ladder when decorating outdoors. Then, inspect your ladder for loose or missing parts before climbing it. Ask a friend or family member to serve as your spotter while you hang the lights.
- Be cautious when decorating near power lines: Keep yourself and your tools at least 10 feet away from the lines at all times.
- Store your lights properly: At the end of the season, pack up your lights in well-sealed plastic containers to prevent water intrusion and rodent damage.
The expert electricians at Penguin Air, Plumbing & Electrical wish you a safe and happy holiday season!
Call Penguin Air at (480) 747-6800 or contact us online today to request electrical service in Phoenix, AZ.