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8 electrical safety tips for holiday lighting

It’s that time of year again! The streets are filling with cheerful (and sometimes spooky) front yard displays that seem to get bigger every year, with Halloween and Christmas as particularly popular times to showcase our decorative flair.

As you adorn your home with lights and decorations, it's important to consider electrical safety. Whether you're gearing up for Halloween spookiness or the thrill of Christmas, take advantage of these crucial electrical safety tips for your holiday lighting to help your celebrations remain accident free.

1. Inspect your decorations

Before you even think about plugging in your holiday lights, take a close look at each decoration. Check for:

  • Frayed wires
  • Broken sockets
  • Damaged plugs

Damaged decorations can pose a significant risk of electrical fires or electric shock, so it's crucial to address any issues promptly. Replace damaged items or repair them before use.

Outdoor-rated lights are the right choice for electrical safety

2. Use outdoor-rated decorations outdoors

Using indoor decorations outdoors can lead to electrical failures and accidents, so make sure you have the right equipment for the job. For outdoor decorations, always use lighting and extension cords specifically designed for outdoor use. These items are constructed with materials and safety features that can withstand the elements, reducing the risk of electrical hazards.

3. Follow the manufacturer's instructions

Every set of holiday lights and decorations comes with manufacturer guidelines and safety instructions. Make sure to read and follow these instructions carefully. They often provide essential information on how to safely set up and use the decorations, including maximum wattage, the number of strings that can be connected, and suitable outlets.

4. Don't overload electrical outlets

Avoid overloading electrical outlets with multiple decorations and extension cords, which can cause overheating and create a fire hazard. Use power strips with surge protection to safely accommodate your decorations, and be mindful of the total wattage to prevent tripped circuits or blown fuses.

An unsafe, black extension cord is frayed at the edges

5. Inspect extension cords

While extension cords are essential for reaching those far corners of your yard or home, follow these electrical safety tips to use them safely:

  • Use ones that are in good condition, with no exposed wires or damaged insulation.
  • Use cords that are the appropriate length for your needs.
  • Never connect multiple extension cords together (unless they’re specifically designed for that).

6. Use LED lights

Consider using LED lights for your holiday decorations. LED lights are energy-efficient, generate less heat, and have a longer lifespan than traditional incandescent bulbs. They’re also less likely to overheat and cause fires.

While they may have a slightly higher upfront cost, the safety benefits and energy savings make LED lights a worthwhile investment.

7. Keep decorations away from flammable materials

That last thing you want is a fire ruining your celebrations. Be cautious about where you place your decorations, and keep them away from flammable materials like curtains, paper, and dry foliage, both indoors and outdoors. Overheated bulbs or frayed wires can quickly ignite nearby combustibles.

A finger is poised to turn off power to a power strip for electrical safety

8. Turn off decorations when you're away

To minimize the risk of electrical hazards, make it a habit to turn off your holiday lights and decorations when you're not at home or before you go to bed. Consider using timers or smart plugs to automate this process, ensuring your decorations aren't left unattended.

Holiday decorations are a delightful way to celebrate Halloween and Christmas, but safety comes first. Following these electrical safety tips can help you enjoy your holiday decorations without worrying about accidents or electrical hazards. Remember, a safe holiday season is a happy holiday season!

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