You don’t have to be your neighborhood’s Griswolds to put together an amazing outdoor Christmas, Hanukkah, or any winter holiday display. Even the most modest lighting can put everyone in the holiday mood as lights glisten and glow throughout the season.
But to truly enjoy your holiday lighting and decorating, a few safety tips are in order.
Lights, Decorations, and Electricity
Gather up all your tools, equipment, decorations, and lights in advance so that everything is nearby.
Test lights on the ground first, so that you’re not testing once they’re in place, and certainly not when they’re up high and more difficult to reach. It’s easier to catch faulty bulbs or entire strings beforehand, than to troubleshoot after the fact.
Choose lights that are up to the task:
Designed for outdoor use in all weather
UL or ETL listed, meeting the safety requirements of one (or both) of these organizations
Consider buying (or upgrading to) LED Christmas lights which use substantially less electricity (good for the environment and your energy bills), and which run cool (generating practically no heat) to reduce fire risk where lights may come into contact with structures.
Do not connect more light strings end-to-end than what is recommended on the package, and be careful not to mix-and-match different types of light strings (such as LED and incandescent) in one run (end-to-end).
When necessary, use heavy duty extension cords made for outdoor use and featuring 3 prongs (grounded), and that are able to support the electricity demand of the number of lights you’re installing.
Plug lights and electrical equipment into GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupting) outlets to prevent problems with electricity in the presence of water. If an outdoor GFCI outlet is not installed, consider having an electrician add one on the outside of your home or garage—it’s worth it for safe outdoor decorating any time of year.
Equipment, Ladders, and Heights
Survey the area before starting:
Look for overhead electric lines, tree branches, and other obstacles
Check for any damage along roof eaves, or gutter issues (breaks, leaf and debris buildup); clean and make repairs before starting installation
Avoid (and do not install lights in) any trees that make, or could make, contact with electric lines.
Use a non-conductive ladder (such as fiberglass) rather than a metal one.
Make sure your ladder is tall enough for the job so that you are not stretching to install decorations.
Use gutter clips and other time-saving supplies to make installation (and post-season removal) quick and easy. They also protect delicate lighting wires—and your decoration investment.
Work from below, and not above your decorations. It’s safer to stand on a ladder than to reach down from the roof’s edge or garage peak.
And most importantly—always have a friend of family member nearby so that you are not working with electricity or from a height all alone. There truly is safety in numbers.
Enjoy your holiday decorating—and the joys of the holiday season! We look forward to seeing your handiwork light up our neighborhoods!