With the holidays just around the corner, citizens across the state are no doubt going to start putting up Christmas lights and other holiday decorations. But in the rush to get things done, it’s tempting to overlook safety. This is a shame, as there are a number of hazards that might compromise safety during the holidays. To protect residents, Southern California Edison is offering a series of tips geared specifically toward hanging holiday lights in a safe manner.
First, understand the special precautions that must be taken when you set out to hang lights and other decorations up outside. You should only use items that are meant to be placed outdoors. That means that if the lights or the extension cord you plan to hang don’t have a description on the package or the items themselves detailing how they can be used outdoors, think twice before hanging them up. And if you’re going to be using ladders, please be aware of any power lines or any other obstructions above your head. You should stay at least ten feet from power lines, and that includes instances where trees fall within that perimeter. If this is the case at your residence, then hang the lights somewhere other than a tree.
When you set out to decorate your home, whether inside or outside, make sure that the cords haven’t frayed, become loose, or otherwise been damaged since their last use a year ago. To further ensure safety, don’t plug more than three strands of lights into an electric outlet, and definitely don’t try to get more mileage out of your power strips by plugging one strip into another. Doing either of these things is a surefire way to create a short circuit or lead a fire to break out. Damage to the light strands can also be avoided by opting for zip cords instead of stapling or nailing the cords to a surface.
Even after the lights are hung up, you have to be aware of their potential to pose a fire or shock threat. Should one of the bulbs burn out partway through the holiday season, then be sure to unplug the whole set of lights before you change out the burnt-out bulb. Also keep cords away from water, including the standing water found at the bottom of a Christmas tree. But by the same token, make sure these trees have a sufficient amount of water so that they don’t become dry and thus pose a fire danger. And consider investing in a timer that will turn off the lights if you forget to. That way, when you go to sleep or leave the house, there won’t be an additional threat of a fire posed when you’re not around to douse the flames.