Between 2007 and 2011, American fire fighters reported 230 fires per year ignited by Christmas trees, and 150 fires per year by Christmas lights using line voltage (as opposed to low-voltage ones such as LEDs). While preparing for Christmas should be a joyous time, you still need to make sure you take precautions when hanging your Christmas lights.
1. Indoor versus Outdoor Light Placement
Only use lights as intended. Don’t try to hang indoor lights outside because they are not made to withstand the elements. On the same note, ensure power strips and extension cords are designed for outdoors if you plan on using them there. Since water can get into outside sockets, it’s important to take precautions against shorting out the lights or getting shocked. Furthermore, if you are hanging the lights inside, make sure you don’t hang lights on a metal tree. Doing so could cause an electrical fire.
2. Check for Damaged Lights
Although Christmas lights look pretty, they are still live wires and electricity, and a broken light can malfunction, causing a fire. Don’t forget that you’re often stringing these lights on timber and wood, which can be a breeding ground for fire if the lights are damaged. Carefully check lights from years prior as well as new lights before hanging them. Examine each light string for bare or frayed wires and loose connections. Don’t try to use lights that look even slightly suspicious. If you see any issues, buy new light strings from a reputable outlet such as ChristmasLightsEtc.
Even if your older lights seem all right, you may want to consider replacing them regardless. Newer lights are created to be safer by using fused plugs which prevent sparks and overloads, while earlier versions may not have them. If the lights don’t have fused plugs, it’s best to play it safe and replace them.
3. Don’t Go at it Alone
If possible, make hanging lights a family event. Even if you live alone, invite friends or family over for a fun decorating night. It’s especially important to have at least one other person there if you are hanging lights from the roof or when using a ladder. It’s always better to have someone there to hold your ladder, and help with this endeavor to prevent accidents. Plus, you’ll enjoy the company.
4. Secure Your Ladder
When securing your ladder, make sure that it is on level ground and leaning on a sturdy surface. When climbing the ladder, use both hands and remain centered on the ladder. Also, never stand at the top of a ladder. Finally, your ladder should extend three feet beyond the top of your roof if you plan on climbing that high.
While accidents don’t happen often, it’s still smart to do your best to prevent them from occurring. Nothing ruins Christmas quite like an accident or fire, and although it only happens rarely, it’s not worth the risk. Invite your friends over or hang lights as a family, carefully inspect them, and replace them regularly. Hiring a professional Christmas decorating company is an especially good idea for outdoor decorating, and they will take down your decorations after the holidays as well. You will have a much more Merry Christmas knowing that you and your family will be safe throughout the holiday season.