Christmas Light Safety
Stay safe this holiday season
Each year, accidents occur from the improper use and storage of Christmas lights. Follow these tips to best protect yourself:
- Untangling Christmas lights can be difficult. Take out your strings of lights and carefully untangle them to avoid huge messy bundles.
- Verify that each string of lights carries the official Underwriter's Laboratories *UL label.
- Take time to inspect your lights before plugging them in. Check for cracks in cord insulation or socket. Look for places where the wires are bare or broken.
- Throw away suspect or damaged strings. Minor cracks can be temporarily repaired with electricians tape for indoor lights. Discard all damaged outdoor light strands, regardless.
- Plug safe-looking strings into an electrical wall socket for 15 minutes and check for signs of melting or smoking wires.
- Always unplug your lights before changing bulbs.
- Replace burnt out bulbs immediately. Always use replacement bulbs of the same voltage/wattage as the entire string.
- If your string has "push in" bulbs, don't twist or screw them - pull them straight out.
- Verify that all strings designated for outdoor use are weatherproofed lights and wires. If an extension cord is needed, wrap the connection juncture tightly with electrical tape and keep suspended off the ground.
- Do not use indoor lights outdoors and vice versa.
- Do not overload wall sockets. Be aware of power drains from extra appliances and common circuits. Use different sockets around the house to plug in multiple lights to balance the load.
- Do not connect together more than the maximum number of strings.
- Set lights to a timer system so that they turn on and off, or be certain to shut off lights when you are asleep or not at home. Limit continuous usage of lights to avoid overheating.
- Hang lights and lamps so that they are not in contact with branches, paper, ornaments, decorations or other flammable items.
In the event an electric shock occurs, follow these emergency safety tips:
- Do not touch the victim while connection to the electrical source is still a peril.
- Sever the power at the fuse or breaker level if possible.
- If someone is still attached to the electricity, use a branch or plastic broom to push them off. Ensure the item you use isn't conductive.
- Call for emergency medical aid.
Remember that while surge protectors are popular for use in the protection of computers from lightning storms, they will offer no protection to people from electric leakages in light strings.