It’s the season for home safety when using holiday lights or illuminated decorations. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, about two-thirds of Americans use indoor decorative lights and half of those put up outdoor lights or lit decorations, too. Additionally, ESFI statistics show that electrical fires and shock injuries spike this time of year. Here are a few safety tips to make sure the coming season is full of good cheer and not causing holiday electrical hazards in your home.

Indoor Decorations

  • Buy decorative electrical lights made by name-brand manufacturers and from reputable retail outlets.
  • Make sure the lights you purchase are approved by UL or other recognized consumer testing laboratory.
  • Don’t connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together into a single string.
  • Consider buying LED holiday lights—they draw less energy than incandescent bulbs and stay cooler.
  • Make sure light strings aren’t pinched by opening and closing of doors, crushed under heavy furniture or damaged by attaching to walls with staples or other restraints.
  • When decorating with lights indoors, plan your layout taking advantage of nearby outlets without using extension cords.
  • Always turn off all electrical decorations when leaving the house or going to bed.

Outdoor Decorations

  • All extension cords, lights and illuminated decorations should be rated for use outdoors.
  • Plug outdoor lights or decorations into ground fault-protected outlets (GFCI) to eliminate shock hazard in wet weather.
  • If your home doesn’t have GFCI outlets, portable adapters can be purchased and plugged into standard outlets.
  • Secure outdoor light strings so constant wind motion doesn’t break insulation and cause shorts.
  • Route extension cords and light strings so they won’t come in contact with standing water or snow on the ground.
  • If you utilize spotlights to illuminate decorations, make sure they are ventilated to prevent over-heating and not placed near flammable materials.
  • When installing outdoor electrical lights or decorations, use non-conductive wooden or fiberglass ladders, not metal.
  • Turn off outdoor decorations when leaving the house or going to bed.

Ask the pros at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more tips about electrical home safety this holiday season.