No matter how much you may love your Christmas lights, you still want to play it safe which is why following some safety rules is always a good idea.
It’s quite difficult to believe, but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that one-fifth of the injuries from holiday decorations that require treatment in the hospital emergency rooms are related to Christmas lights. Every year, there are almost 400 fires from the Christmas trees, according to the National Fire Protection Association and there are even a dozen deaths and injuries. As for the property damages, the numbers go around 10$ million and the short circuiting lights are the most important cause for the Christmas tree fires.
The first things to consider
No matter the design you’re thinking about, it’s essential to check to see if each strand is safe to use. Even if you’re buying a new set of lights, you still need to see if the set has been tested for safety. A label with some sort of testing lab should be on your packaging.
Use a proper stand in the right place as some lights are only for the indoor use and other especially made for the outdoors. The market gives you lights that go both indoor and outdoor.
Double check the strands, even the new ones, to see if there are any frayed wires, loose connections, bare wires, broken bulbs or cracked sockets. Keep any set on for around 15 minutes, on a fire-resistant surface so that the lights don’t melt or smoke either.
You should also replace the damaged bulbs (turn off electrical power before doing it) and put the outdoor lights, fastening safely to the wall, trees or house in order to protect them from strong winds.
Never use electric lights if you’re using a metallic tree and always hang colored spotlights above or beside a tree. This way you’re going to avoid the electric shock from a tree that got charged by some faulty lights. Make sure that no light bulbs ever touch combustible materials (pine leaves, needles, grass and plastic).
Keep in mind to always turn off the Christmas lights (laser lights included) before you go to sleep or leave your home. It’s also better to never leave them unattended also.
The electrical cords
Stay on the safe side and never use more than three standard-sized light sets for each extension cord. This is around 150 big lights or 200 mini lights.
Don’t use more than one extension cord for one outlet and only use three-pronged extension cords especially made for the outdoors.
Make sure that the electrical cords for the indoors are placed so that the wire insulation isn’t going to be worn down or pinched. Don’t place them under rugs, not beneath or behind your furniture.
Keep the wires and lights away from the Christmas’s tree water supply and your pets as well.
As for the electrically powered decorations (inflated cartoon characters, electric trains, and nativity scenes), pay attention to them too as they may short out and cause a fire.
Rules for indoor Christmas lights
You can have a nicely decorated home inside even when you’re following safety rules. Take a look at our list just to make sure you have a nice and safe Christmas too:
- Check the lights to see if there are any damaged bulbs or frayed wires
- Look closely to the old and new set of lights to see if there are any broken or crocked sockets, loose connection or bare wires. Don’t use any damaged light sets.
- Install your Christmas tree away from fireplace (yes, we know, it looks amazing near the fireplace), heater vents, portable heaters or TV set.
- Make sure that the indoor lights have been tested for safety and are labeled accordingly by an independent testing laboratory
- If you’re using a natural tree, make sure that its stand is filled with water
- Make sure your Christmas tree doesn’t block any doors or foot traffic
- Place the bulbs of the lights away from needles and ornaments
- Miniature lights are a better option for the indoors as they have cool burning bulbs
- Always use only one extension cord for an outlet
- Don’t place the electrical cords beneath the furniture or under rugs, even if you’re going for the subtle décor
- Try to only use three standard sized light sets for one extension cord
- Make sure your pets don’t go near the electrical cords
- Use flame-resistant materials to trim the tree
- Always turn off the Christmas lights before you go to sleep or you leave your home
- Never use lighted candles, even if your tree is artificial
- Keep an eye on the electrically powered scenery and figures as they do come with risk for fire too.
Rules for outdoor Christmas lights
There are many hazards to consider when installing the outdoor Christmas lights too so we put out together a list of safety rules to use:
- You should only use lights especially made for the outdoor use
- Always fasten the outdoor lights safe and tightly to the trees or the exterior of your house so that you minimize risk for wind damaging
- Remember to shut off outside electrical power if you’re going to replace any bulbs
- Look for the damaged socks, loose connections, frayed wires and don’t use any light set that is already damaged
- Use only three standards size sets of lights per single extension cord
- Never use an indoor cord outside your hours
- It’s always best to use extension cords with a three-prong plug, approved for the outdoor use
- Don’t stand in water when you’re installing some electrical wires or you’re using some power tools
- Minimize the risks for electrical shock by always using a dry, wooden ladder while hanging the outdoor lights
- You should always plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits that are protected by ground fault circuit’s interrupters (GFCIs).
- Make sure that no bulbs touch any combustible materials (pine needles, plastics, grass or leaves)
- Don’t leave the house nor go to sleep unless the outdoor lights are turned off.
- Take the lights down once the Christmas is over. They’re not designed to take the exposure to elements for a very long time.
What about the candles?
Candles are great for their nice and warm light but you have to be very cautious when using them. You need to put them in sturdy holders in a safe place, where the risk for them to touch any combustible materials is zero. You should never leave the candles unattended.
No matter how lovely the candles are, you should never decorate the tree with lit candles. Better yet, stay safe and away from any tree with open flame-matches, lighters or candles.