Christmas lights are the perfect way to show off holiday spirit to the neighborhood and delight passerby who drive past your home. Unfortunately, injuries are common during the holiday season when proper care isn’t used when installing the lights. Use these tips to make your home safely glow this holiday season.
1. Always Inspect the Lights Prior to Installing
Lights that have been stored over the past year may have wires exposed that pose a safety risk. This may be especially true for lights that have been stored in a warm attic or shed over the spring and summer months. Carefully unwind each strand of lights and inspect it. If no exposed wires or broken bulbs are found, plug it into a power outlet and test to see if the lights work. If they don’t work, check the bulbs and replace the fuse. Mark any bulbs that are not lighting up with a permanent marker in order to make changing out the bulbs easier.
It’s a good idea to also review the manufacturer’s instructions before hanging the lights. Depending on the brand of lights, the manufacturer may recommend stringing only a certain amount together. If you can’t find the instructions, connect no more than three strands of lights together.
2. Remove Any Broken Bulbs Safely
If any broken bulbs are located during the inspection, remove them safely. Unplug the lights and locate the broken bulb. Wear a pair of gloves and use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the bulb. Replace it with a similar bulb and ensure that it is completely in the socket before checking to see if the lights work.
3. Get the Right Equipment
Gather all of the equipment to hang the lights prior to beginning installation. Get a sturdy ladder and inspect it for any issues. The ladder should be placed on a level surface and be tall enough that you can reach the roof or trees without standing on the top two steps of the ladder. If an extension ladder is being used, a good rule of thumb to follow is for every four feet of ladder height, it should be placed one foot away from the house.
Acquire plastic light holders and ensure that there is enough for the entire length of the surface from which the lights will hang. Never use staples, tacks or nails to hang lights as these can cause wires to fray and may cause electrical shock.
4. Check the Area Where Lights Will Hang
Make a plan of where the lights will be hung. If lights are being strung on a tree, make sure the tree is not close to power lines and that the lights are not in any footpaths that could present a tripping danger.
5. Plug Lights Into a Safe Exterior Power Source
It’s important to figure out how the exterior lights will be safely powered. All lights should be plugged into an outlet that is protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). This will help reduce the risk of electrical shock. Additionally, make sure any extension cords that are used are in good condition.
6. Use an Automatic Timer
Setting up the lights on an automatic timer will prevent extra electricity from being wasted. Set up the lights to go on at a certain time each day and to be turned off at a certain time each evening. New wi-fi connected power strips that sync to phones are also available to ensure your lights are on and off when you want.
7. Carefully Mount or Hang Lights to Prevent Cord Damage
Using specially-designed clips, carefully hang the Christmas lights along the gutter or roof. If desired, vertical clips can also be purchased for vertical hanging. Don’t pull the cord too tight, as this can damage the lights. When hanging lights in a tree, have another person help wind the lights along each branch in order to prevent having to move the ladder multiple times.
8. Leave the Lights On When Leaving Town
Many people mistakenly believe that lights should be turned off when leaving town for the holidays in order to prevent fires and save on the electric bill. As long as the lights were installed properly, the best idea is to leave the lights on as usual. Darkened homes are a sign to thieves that the home is empty, which places a house at a greater risk of being robbed.