January 18, 2019

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!

Christmas Lighting Installation–Working with the Pros

christ lite install 

Christmas Lights:  Should You Leave this Job to Someone in the Know? 

Using a Christmas lights professional to install Christmas decorations–including Christmas lights–can make the difference between ho-hum holiday décor, and décor that wows everyone who passes your home. And unless you are a real pro at this task, you should probably at least consider hiring a Christmas lights professional to handle your Christmas lighting installation. After all, you wouldn’t call a plumber to mow your lawn, or a doctor to cut your hair, would you? 

Narrowing the Field

The first step to take when engaging a Christmas lights professional is to determine exactly what extent of help you need. Do you already know what you would like your Christmas lights and decorations to look like? In that case, you would  probably do fine with the kind of company that only takes care of Christmas lighting installation jobs, such as hanging Christmas lights. Others provide a wide variety of services, from helping you select lights that suit your taste and budget, to choosing other holiday embellishments, to ensuring that your entire “package” of lights and other Christmas decorations look great together. 

Questions to Ask

Before settling on a specific Christmas lights professional to take over your Christmas lighting installation project, it’s prudent to ask each candidate a variety of questions so that there are no surprises later. For example, does the company provide any sort of guarantee that its team will arrive at your home on time and start hanging Christmas lights according to your agreed-upon design plan? How will the situation be handled should the initial cost estimate prove too low; in other words, will they consult with you to maintain a lid on costs? What happens should Christmas lights and/or Christmas decorations purchased from the company fail; e.g., will the company repair or replace it? And perhaps most important, does the Christmas lights professional have liability and worker’s compensation insurance? 

Other ‘Musts’

It’s also important to remember that a reputable Christmas lights professional doesn’t disappear once a Christmas lighting installation has been completed. Rather, it should have in place a system for responding to follow-up inquiries and calls. The company should also provide, preferably in writing, a date or a range of dates on which it will return to your home to take down the Christmas lights (and Christmas decorations, if applicable) it has installed. Providing you keep these guidelines in mind, dealing with a Christmas lights professional should be a breeze.