It’s that magical time of year again – time to decorate your home for the holidays! But before you drag your ladder from the shed to string twinkling lights around your roof, it’s crucial to take proper precautions. The CPSC estimates around 15,000 people will injure themselves as a result of a holiday-decorating accident. Don’t be a static. You can infuse your house with holiday spirit and avoid a trip to the ER. Follow our tips to safely decorate your home for the holidays.
1. Secure Your Ladder
Set yourself up for success from the very beginning of the holiday decorating process. Make your ladder is free of chips, dents and cracks which can lead to sudden ladder failure. Always set up your ladder on level ground and only use it when it is fully open in an A-shape position; never use it folded or leaning.
2. Plan Ahead
Examine your decorations for cracks and chips, worn wires and bad sockets before you drag them up to the roof with you. You don’t want to take the journey up the ladder with a pile of broken decorations, only to have to climb back down with the same faulty set. Inspect and unwrap all decorations before you make it to the roof.
3. Daytime is Optimal Time
Always decorate during the daytime hours, when visibility is optimal. When you have adequate lighting you can see better and move around more easily. You do not want to climb around your roof at night when you are not able to see possible vulnerable areas of your roof, along with potential electric issues. If the weather is inclement, do not attempt to climb your ladder outside.
4. Outdoor Equipment for the Exterior
Not all electrical equipment was created equally. Outdoor lighting belongs outdoors, just as indoor lighting belongs indoors. Always use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) or a residual current device (RCDs) to safely plug in outdoor lights and decorations. If your house does not have GFCI protected outlets, you can purchase portable ones. These specialty outlets shut off to prevent electric currents from accidentally flowing along the wrong path, like water or a person.
5. Proper Extension Cords
Only use heavy-duty extension cords for all your holiday lights and decorations. Check the packaging to ensure you’re using outdoor extension cords for the exterior, and indoor extension cords for interior decorations. Avoid overloading the extension by limiting the cord to a maximum of 3 sets of lights.
6. Decorations on a Timer
If possible, see if you can put your holiday lights on a timer. You want to spend minimal time on your roof, and should not have to continually climb up to inspect lights and operate them. Having electrical lights and decorations on a timer also means less time fiddling with plugs and outlets.
7. Power in the Buddy System
It’s the holiday season, reach out to friends and family for help! Hanging decorations is safer and more efficient as a two-person job.
8. UL-Approved Lighting
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a testing facility for light fixtures that validates the safety of a product. Electricians only work with UL-approved lighting products, as products without UL approval are potentially dangerous and may be a fire hazard. UL approved products undergo vigorous testing and must meet strict guidelines, ensuring consumer safety.
9. Avoid Power Lines
Survey the area for power lines before you climb up to the roof. Position yourself, your ladder and your decorations at least 10 feet away from power lines.
10. Prepare the Area for Decorations
Before you start creating an electrical spectacle, make sure your gutters are clean and free of debris, to prevent potential fire hazards. When hot lights rest on dried leaves and sticks, it creates a fire hazard.
Fill your home with holiday cheer this season as you safely decorate your home. If you have major concerns or need help safely adorning your home for the holidays, you can hire a trained professional to handle the logistics. Putting up and taking down holiday decorations can be challenging and dangerous. Set yourself up for success by following the helpful tips to safely spread the holiday cheer.