We all enjoy decorating the inside and outside of our homes with lights and plug-in decorations for the holiday season. They create a cheerful atmosphere, add sparkle to trees and foster the imagination of children of all ages.
Unfortunately, they can also increase the risks of fire and electrical injuries if not used safely. We’ve put together a few tips for ensuring a safer decorating experience this holiday season.
1. Make a decorating plan
Before decorating, determine how many outlets are available and where they are located. Plan your displays accordingly. Make sure all extension cords and decorations used for outdoor decorating are marked for outdoor use. Similarly, it is important to be certain that electrical devices marked as indoor only, such as plugs and connectors, not be used outside the home.
Be sure to match power needs (amperage) of electrical products with amperage rating of extension cords to prevent overheating.
2. Light up your home…safely
When it comes to buying your decorations, always purchase them from reputable retailers. Be sure to use lights that are approved for safe use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together and consider purchasing LED lights, which use less energy and run cooler than traditional incandescent lights.
3. Inspect your decorations
Carefully inspect all lights, decorations and extension cords for damage before using. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire. Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord's insulation and always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.
4. Over the top? Sure! Overloaded outlets? NO!
Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire. Be sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows, or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord's insulation.
5. Outdoor safety
Inspect ladders for loose or missing screws, hinges, bolts and nuts before using. When you’re ready, be sure to use the right ladder height, ensuring ladders extend at least three feet past the edge of the roof. Always exercise caution when decorating near power lines, keeping yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet from power lines.
Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. All outdoor GFCI outlets should be weather-resistant models and shielded from the elements by using While-in-Use Covers. If your outdoor outlets are not GFCI outlets, either replace them or use portable outdoor GFCIs to provide protection. And remember, as tempting as it may be to keep adding more decorations, to never overload outlets or outdoor extension cords.
More outdoor safety decorating tips.
As you continue to enjoy decking the halls, always keep electrical safety in mind. Consider using timers so that your lights turn on and off automatically. Note that although timers can control both indoor and outdoor lighting, the timers themselves are for indoor use only and therefore must be installed inside the home, not outside. If you do not use timers, be sure to turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep.
For even greater convenience, check out our complete line of Decora Smart® Wi-Fi® smart dimmers, switches, plug-ins and more so you can control your holiday lights anytime, from anywhere. (Indoor installation only)
Lastly, consider replacing your indoor outlets with Tamper-Resistant Outlets, this way curious children can safely enjoy all the lights and decorations throughout the holiday season.