It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Increasing the sense of festivity of the season are holiday lights. As you think about decorating your home or business, it is important to consider several safety tips.

Examine the safety of your lights. Lights that have been tested and rated by Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) will be clearly marked on the package and on tags near the plug. Check your decorations for frayed or broken wires. Throw away any damaged wires as these can cause an electrical short which can damage other lights and decorations as well as lead to a fire. Now plug in the lights and check for bulbs that have burned out. Unplug and replace faulty bulbs right away as it is dangerous to have lights plugged in with empty sockets, and this also increases the voltage in the rest of the bulbs which reduces their lifetime. Speaking of danger, remember to keep lights out of the reach of children.

Now consider your source of power. This should be a GFCI outlet as it will shut the circuit down if there is a ground fault. If you don’t have a GFCI-protected receptacle, a qualified electrician can install one for you so that you can enjoy your holiday decorations for years to come. Keep connections above ground, snow and water. If you are using extension cords make sure that you don’t overload them with more wattage than they were designed to accommodate.  If using it outdoors, make sure it is rated for exterior use. Also be aware of the length of the extension cords. If they are too long, the cords can pile up and cause a tripping hazard. If they are too short or pulled taut, there is an increased risk of pulling over your Christmas tree or other decorations. Be sure to avoid high traffic areas and avoid use of cords across walkways.  When using a ladder to hang lights, always check it for safety and stability. Place the ladder firmly on the ground at an angle that is both comfortable and safe, not too steep nor too flat.  Always use three points of contact while you are on a ladder, and follow the manufacturer’s recommended safety guidelines.

When hanging lights, don’t use tacks, staples or nails as these can pierce wires and wear away protective insulation. You can use insulated holders, rope light clips or nail-on plastic string light clips.  Be sure to turn off lights when your house is unattended or when everyone is asleep as someone should be available to monitor to avoid damage, serious fire and injuries. Consider using a switched outlet or an automatic timer. If using outdoors, make sure the timer is rated for outdoor use. Also, the timer and receptacle must be rated to handle combined amperes of all the light strings.

Hope you find these safety tips helpful.  We at In Control Technology, LLC want you to have a safe and blessed holiday season!