I spotted my first Holiday lights last week. It was Election Day, November 6th. It seems that these sightings are earlier and earlier every year. Sheesh, I still had Halloween decorations around my house.
Many times, when I am inspecting roofs or siding, I see evidence of holiday lights strung askew. Besides not looking very festive, it can be a fire hazard. It is aÂ subjectÂ near and dear to my heart, as I personally have lived through a holiday light safety scare about 10 years ago.
I was stringing up holiday lights on the exterior of our house and the electrical tape I was using caught fire when it came in contact with the lights. I ran for the fireÂ extinguisher Â not realizing that my then 4 year-old-daughter was running toward the fire to see the "pretty sparks." ManyÂ terrifyingÂ momentsÂ later, we were in an ambulance rushing her to Maricopa Hospital's Burn Center. She had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her neck and back. Thankfully she recovered with limited pain and scarring, but with scary memories of what can happen in anÂ instantÂ A lesson not only for her, but for me and my entire family. That's why I want to share these Holiday Lighting Safety Tips from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission below. 'Tis the Season...but please be safe!
- 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. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.