Christmas is known to be the most wonderful time of the year, and for most this holds true. However, it can also come with higher risks for homeowners and apartment dwellers, often tied to Christmas lights, both indoors and out. Today, we’re sharing some important Christmas light safety tips to ensure that your holiday season is filled with happiness and less stress! Take a look at our list, check it twice, and make sure that your Christmas lights play nice, ’cause Santa Claus is coming to town.
1. Inspect before hanging
It can be exciting to get the lights up on the house, especially if you have kids. However, like any electronic device, you should inspect it thoroughly before you install them. Make sure that none of the lights are blown or broken and check for any fraying or discoloration of the wire. If you suspect anything, get rid of that strand. There’s no sense in taking a risk over a $10 line of lights! If you deem them safe, plug them in to make sure all lights are in working condition.
2. Check for recalled lights
The year 2015 was an especially bad year for Christmas lights, with dozens of brands and light types being recalled. It continues to happen, year after year, so be sure to check online for any possible recalls on your Christmas lights, especially if they’re old. Reasons for recalls can range from overheating and inefficiencies to fire hazards, so you must check to make sure your lights aren’t on any recall lists.
3. Use lights for their intended purpose
Indoor-only lights should be for the tree only! Indoor lights aren’t capable of standing up to the cold and snow. As such, they often cause sparks and shocks through their limited wire coverings, which can blow fuses, cause shocks, or at worst, start fires. Outdoor lights should also be taken down in January, as they are generally designed for limited outdoor exposure and not year-round.
4. Set lights on a timer or purchase a smart plug
Turning out the lights isn’t just about saving money, it’s about being safe. Always remember to turn off the outdoor (and indoor) Christmas lights before you head to bed. Now, if you enjoy a little more Christmas cheer, set your lights on a timer or get a smart plug that you can set to a schedule.
5. Use a GFCI outlet, if possible
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is a specific type of plug that will shut your power off at the outlet (rather than the entire house) when there is an electrical trip or fault. This is especially important for where you decide to plug in your Christmas lights, say if it’s an outdoor plug or located inside the garage. Why? Because damp areas can mean a higher risk of electric shock, but a GFCI outlet can reduce this risk.
6. Upgrade from traditional bulbs to LED lights
The cost of LED Christmas lights has dropped significantly over the last couple of years, and they are now a better deal than traditional lights. So if you’re still holding onto those 1970s classic candle-like lights, retire them to the attic and get yourself a new set. Not only are they much safer (as they don’t warm), but they will save you money on electrical costs.
7. Keep light types together
If you insist on using older light strands, don’t plug them into the same strand as a LED strand. Because LEDs require so much less electrical pull than incandescent bulbs, their cords may not be able to handle the draw that incandescent strands do. As such, put them on their own plug to increase Christmas light safety.
8. Have someone secure the ladder while you’re hanging
This one seems to be a no-brainer, yet many patients are admitted to the hospital every year during the holidays because of fall-related injuries. Also, use a wood ladder as opposed to metal, where possible, to avoid electrical shock.
9. Secure your lights with clips or hooks
When hanging Christmas lights, it is crucial to fasten them to a secure surface. Gone are the days when staples and nails are considered safe because wires can rub against them and become pierced, increasing the risk of fire. It’s recommended to use hooks or mounting clips, which are inexpensive and much safer (check out Canadian Tire or Amazon.)
10. Ensure that you’ve chosen the right extension cord
The extension cord you use to connect your Christmas lights to an electrical outlet is just as important as the type of Christmas lights you’ve chosen (if not more.) Make sure that you use a cord intended for outdoor use, not an indoor-only cord. If you don’t have one, it is worth the investment to purchase one. An added safety tip is to keep them dry and off the ground!
11. Hire someone to do it for you
Nowadays, you can hire someone to do just about any job. More recently, people have been offering to hang your Christmas lights for a fee. Companies, such as beyondyourreach.ca, will come to your house and take this one item off your Xmas to-do list. If you’d prefer someone local, check out your neighbourhood Facebook group or listings around your area.
There are many other ways to keep Christmas light safety in mind, but these cover the basics. Overall, we always recommend using your best judgment to avoid future home insurance claims. If ever in doubt, don’t take the risk! If you do have a home insurance claim to submit, contact your isure broker today.