October through January is holiday light season, starting with Halloween. Outdoor lights and decorations are a fun way to get in the spirit of the holiday, welcoming trick-or-treaters with a spooky set-up that causes a delightful shiver up the spine. However, if you make a mistake with your holiday light installation, the scare factor becomes all too real. Outdoor holiday lights can be a home fire hazard if they’re not installed according to safety guidelines. Before you start decking the halls with cobwebs and skeletons, read through these outdoor holiday lighting tips to make sure your holiday fun passes the safety test.
Outdoor Holiday Lights Safety Tips:
- Check that all power cords, extension cables, and outdoor decorations are marked for outdoor use.
- Always inspect power cords and electric decorations for damage before using.
- Make sure the amperage (power requirement) of all electrical decorations matches the amperage rating (power capacity) of your extension cords.
- Only plug outdoor lights into outlets with GCFI circuit breakers to prevent damage or fire from a sudden power surge.
- Be cautious of overloading outlets. Powering too many decorations from a single outlet can cause the outlet to overheat, potentially starting a fire.
- Avoid using candles when possible. Illuminate jack-o’-lanterns with electric candles instead of candles to reduce risk of fire.
- Make sure all outdoor lights are securely fastened to your house, a tree, or another sturdy support in order to prevent wind damage.
- Take care not to mount electric decorations too close to power lines or flammable items, or to fasten the strands in a way that could damage the electrical cord—i.e. stapling.
- For your personal safety, use wood or fiberglass ladders when installing outdoor electric decorations. Metal ladders conduct electricity.
- Install timers for your electric decorations or make sure to turn off your lights each night before you go to bed.
READ MORE: Energy Saving Tips for Holiday Lights