Outdoor lights and decorations can add a great deal of cheer during the holiday season but they can also pose a great danger if they are not hung properly.
To prevent these outdoor holiday decorations from causing burns, electrocution or blunt trauma from being blown about in the wind and falling, it is necessary to follow a few basic tips and safety precautions.
7 Ways to Hang Your Outdoor Decorations Safely
1. Make sure that the electrical cords you are using are well grounded with three prongs and meant for outdoor use.
This is important because not all electrical cords resist water and mixing water and electricity results in a sometimes fatal electric shock.
You also should make sure that the outlet or multi-channel unit that you are using is a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected outlet (GFCI)
2. Use light and decorations that are labeled for outdoor use. These are sprayed with a flame retardant that helps resist fires that are the result of bursting bulbs or lightning strikes.
Shutting off the lights during the day can prevent the bulbs and filaments heating up too much and exploding or catching fire.
3. Make sure that the area you are plugging electrical cords into is dry. If you are using an outdoor outlet, try and use one that is so high enough so that it is out of reach of any flooding, storm surges or melting snow run-off.
Avoid using low outlets where water can pool. Freestanding outlets or ones that are higher than your waist on the side of the house are best ones to use as places to plug in.
4. Avoid creating octopus situations by plugging too many cords into one multi-channel outlet. This causes the multi-channel unit to become hot, start smoking and eventually burst into flames.
5. Don’t overload the electrical panel. Make sure that the fuses in your fuse box are able to handle the wattage of the decorations you are hanging up. Your fuse box should never feel warm after you plug in your holiday lights.
6. Natural ornaments made from grass or tree branches are not a great choice for holiday décor. They can easily catch on fire in the hot sun, or start smoking if they are placed too close to a warm light bulb or chord.
7. Before you hang lights, check them for cracked bulbs or broken sockets. These are the decorations that are most likely to malfunction, catch on fire, or shatter and spray broken glass on your front lawn.
Your best chance to avoid this is to make sure that the light strings and electrical chords that you are using are certified for outdoor use.
In hot areas of the world where sudden flooding or storms are common, as is the case in Louisville, KY, it is especially important to keep both outdoor and indoor lighting as far away from water as possible.