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7 Tips for Christmas Light Safety
By Joan Whetzel
Every year, as Thanksgiving rolls around with Christmas following hot on its heals, those of us who celebrate Christmas start thing about putting up the Christmas lights and decorations. Before putting up those lights, however, you may want to consider running through a lighting checklist.
1) Untangling Old Light Sets
Begin by untangling the old light sets. Be careful not to tie the cords in knots, or to break the cords, plugs, light bulbs and light sockets. Replace any broken light bulbs.
2) Checking Wiring
Carefully check the wiring for breaks or cracks and for damaged light bulb sockets and plugs. If there are damages to these parts of any light set, toss it out.
3)Checking for Burned Out Lights
Plug in each light set to check for burned out bulbs or blown fuses. Unplug problem sets, replace light bulbs and fuses as necessary, then re-plug the light sets into the outlet. If a new fuse does not fix the problem, toss that light set.
4) Hanging Lights Inside and Outside
Hanging lights on the tree is a no brainer. Most lights inside can be draped or wrapped around things like banisters. Lights hung outside around the roof line can be hung with a set of hooks that slide between the roof and the shingles. However, lights along the roof top or around tree trunks are most frequently hung with staples. The problem arises when staples pierce the lighting cords. To be safe, make sure to aim each staple’s tines so that they straddle the cord. If the staple punctures the cord, it could short out the wire, or worse, start a fire.
5) Extension Cords
Check extension cords for damaged plastic coating as well as broken wires and plugs. Throw away any damaged extension cords. This is a no brainer, but bears repeating: Be sure to use indoor extension cords only indoors. They aren’t rated for outdoor use.
6) When Is Enough Too Much
Know where you will plugging in each light set and find out how much voltage each outlet and its circuit breaker can handle. If you’re not paying attention, it’s quite easy to over load a circuit. If your taste for lighting exceeds the amount of electricity that your circuit breaker panel can handle, then it may be time to consider using a generator to pick up the slack.
7) Taking Down and Storing Lights
When taking down lights, wind them up around slats of cardboard to keep them from getting tangled. Check the lights and cords over before storing them for problems that may have developed while they were set up.
Keeping your Christmas lights in working order and discarding damaged light sets will prevent holiday fires. By exercising a safety before setting up Christmas lights and before putting them away each year, you and your family have a safer - and happier - Christmas