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Holiday Lights Safety Tips

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | Nov 18, 2013

holiday-lights-300x199'Tis the season, with the holiday’s upon us many families enjoy decorating their home with lights both inside and out.  While we have previously touched on lights inside the home in safety articles on this blog it’s important we talk about how to safely decorate the outside of your home so that you and your family can enjoy the holiday season injury free.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 12,500 people are treated for injuries relating to falls, cuts, and shocks that occur from holiday lights.  People’s Trust Insurance wants you and your family to enjoy the holiday’s festively but most importantly- safely.  Follow these outside light and decoration guidelines to keep your family safe this season. 

Lights:

  • Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards. Use only lights that have fused plugs.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
  • Replace burned out bulbs promptly with bulbs of the same wattage.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Always practice ladder safety, don’t try to hang lights on your own.  If the job calls for it- call a professional. 
  • Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
  • Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire. Your holiday lights can also overheat, so turning them off during the day, when you are sleeping, and when you are out of the house will give them a chance to cool down.
  • Use caution when removing outdoor holiday lights. Never pull or tug on lights – they could unravel and inadvertently wrap around power lines.
  • Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.

Decorations:

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.”
  • Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

This Blog is sponsored by:
People’s Trust Insurance Company