December 18, 2017

Outdoor Christmas Lights Safety

 

Take Precautions When Hanging Christmas Lights Outdoors

 hanging lights

It’s no secret that outdoor Christmas lights can turn any home and yard into a holiday wonderland. However, it’s important to be as mindful of safety when hanging Christmas lights outdoors as it is when setting them up indoors.  As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 

 

Landscape Lighting Selection Smarts

Common sense dictates that all products used for exterior and landscape lighting purposes be intended specifically for installation outdoors. The same is true for all extension cords used to provide power to outdoor Christmas lights, which should be rated for outdoor use. Additionally, before purchasing any extension cord, check the package for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal. UL is an independent laboratory that evaluates electrical products for safety–and if a cord isn’t UL-rated, leave it on the store’s shelves.

 

Go For the Ground–The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

 gfi

Precautions for hanging Christmas lights outdoors aren’t limited to proper outdoor Christmas lighting selection and the purchase of appropriate extension cords. It’s also a smart idea to buy a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI — “the most effective means for protecting consumers against electrical shock hazards,” according to Document 5040 of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. A GFCI is the small red rectangle that lies between the upper and lower sets of holes of some electrical outlets. It constantly monitors current flowing in a circuit to sense any loss of current. If the current flowing through two circuit conductors differs by a very small amount, the GFCI instantly interrupts the current flow to prevent users from coming into contact with a lethal amount of electricity. GFCIs are especially critical to use with outdoor Christmas lights, whose wires and bulbs can be damaged by unpredictable and sometimes severe weather.

 

Call In the Pros

For yet another layer of landscape lighting safety, hire an electrician to check all outlets and GFCIs to determine whether they are operating properly and can supply the necessary volume of power to your exterior Christmas lighting display. Asking the electrician to install extra outlets is a wise course of action if he or she deems them necessary. Otherwise, you run the risk of pluging too many lights into one outlet, overloading the circuit and causing a power failure or a fire. When setting up landscape lighting, remember also that water and electricity make a terrible and potentially dangerous combination. Without fail, keep electrical connections clear of snow and puddles and ensure that sockets point downward when inserting bulbs into them. Never put strings of exterior Christmas lights on trees that come into contact with power lines. And finally, do not hang outdoor Christmas lights on trees that touch, or could potentially touch, power lines. Better safe than sorry!

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