Everything You Need to Know About Christmas Light Safety
The holidays are upon us once again, which can only mean one thing: soon, you\’ll likely be grabbing the ladder, heading onto the roof and stringing up those beautiful Christmas lights for the entire neighborhood to enjoy.
Over the last few decades in particular, there has been a big push towards educating people about just how dangerous Christmas lights can be in the wrong circumstances. It\’s common knowledge now that certain types of \”older\” lights in particular got very hot, to the point where they could be a fire hazard if left unattended. While the modern LED Christmas lights of today are certainly better from that perspective, newer technology does NOT automatically make all decorations safer. There are still risks associated with hanging Christmas lights, it\’s just that they\’ve changed along with the times themselves.
Therefore, if you really want to put together a stunning display in the safest way possible, there are a number of important things you\’ll want to keep in mind.
Are Christmas Lights Dangerous? Breaking Things Down
One of the most important things for you to understand this holiday season is that when it comes to Christmas lights, the old saying of \”you get what you pay for\” really does apply. Not only does buying the cheapest set of lights you can find run the risk of winding up with dead bulbs or entire strands that just don\’t work at all, but you may also be compromising in terms of safety, as well.
For the absolute best results, resist the urge to grab \”the cheap ones\” at the checkout line or at the Dollar Store and invest in a set of quality lights with cords that are weather rated to be outside in the wind, the rain, and in very low temperatures. Yes, it\’ll cost a little bit more – but the peace-of-mind that they will bring with them will truly be invaluable.
Along the same lines, there has been a surge in popularity in \”inflatable\” items as part of Christmas decorations for homeowners. Who doesn\’t love walking down the street and seeing a massive inflatable Santa Claus staring back at you? But still, you need to realize that many of these are NOT waterproof and leaving them out totally unattended will only increase the chances that something will go wrong.
Therefore, you need to either invest in an inflatable item that IS waterproof or avoid putting one up altogether. This is absolutely one of those situations where the risks outweigh any potential benefit you may have.
The Ins and Outs of Christmas Light Safety
Before you even think about heading outside to set up those Christmas lights, the first thing you\’ll want to do involves checking each one for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, bare wires and similar issues. This is true regardless of whether you\’re talking about that old set of lights you\’ve had for years, or that new one you just brought home from the store. Any damaged cords should be immediately discarded, as at that point they\’re little more than a fire hazard.
Keep in mind that you should make this inspection BEFORE putting them on your house.Likewise, you\’ll want to make sure that you are ONLY using lights that have been properly tested for safety. Even if you\’re buying a brand new set of LED holiday lights, you should still look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label to make sure you\’re getting the safest possible option.
As you hook up your outdoor Christmas lights, always be sure to use a three-prong grounded extension cord that is specifically designed to be used outside. Also, check the packaging to see exactly how many strands you can safely hook together. Whatever you do, do NOT overload either the outlets or the extension cords themselves. If something goes wrong, in the absolute best case scenario you could trigger a circuit breaker in your home or permanently damage the lights themselves. In a worst case scenario, you\’re again looking at a fire hazard on your hands which is why this is one situation you simply don\’t want to risk.
Finally, this is the time of year when a lot of people find themselves asking some variation of the question \”is it OK to leave Christmas lights on all night?\” Sometimes you\’re running over to a friend\’s house and you want to be able to enjoy those lights when you come home. Other times you might be ready to head to bed and just don\’t feel like turning them off.
Regardless, you should NEVER leave your Christmas lights on totally unattended – even if you\’re just talking about the admittedly safer LED lights that produce very little heat to begin with.
Thankfully, there are a wide range of different ways that you can make this easier than ever. If you have a smartphone, there are \”smart home\” outlets that you can buy that will allow you to control the outlet your lights are plugged into (and thus, the lights themselves) right from your device.
If you invest in one that is HomeKit compatible, you\’ll be able to have total control over your lights right from the \”Home\” app. Not only can you automatically turn them on and off at certain times, but you can include them in other scenes, too.
You could program your phone to automatically turn your lights off whenever you leave and turn them back on again when you arrive – allowing you to enjoy the experience you were after while dramatically minimizing risk.
There are also automated timers for outdoor lighting that aren\’t smartphone compatible, but that will still turn your Christmas lights on when it gets dark without you having to do anything.
In the end, everybody loves Christmas lights, and with good reason – they really do help people get into the spirit of the season in a fun and enjoyable way. But they still pose a risk if left unchecked. By following all of the best practices outlined above, you\’ll be able to enjoy all of the benefits of Christmas lights with as few of the potential downsides as possible.