‘Tis the season to show your holiday spirit. And what better way to showcase your yuletide enthusiasm than with an outdoor lighting display! Here are 10 Outdoor Holiday Lighting Safety Tips to keep your holidays safe and bright.
Locate your power supply.
First things first: Locate your power source. And make sure the male end of your light cord or extension cord is closest to the power connection. (You would be surprised by how many people go through all the trouble of hanging their lights only to find they have the wrong end of the power cord next to the electrical outlet!)
Use the proper outlet.
Plug your Christmas lights into a ground-fault circuit interruptor (GFCI) outlet with a waterproof cover. This is the safest option for an outdoor power source, as this type of outlet will shut the circuit down if there is over current. GFCIs can be found at your local hardware store.
Use a step ladder, not your tippy-toes.
Use a good ladder when installing your Christmas lights, and make sure it is safely balanced on the ground. And to save yourself some unnecessary climbing up and down the ladder by making sure all your blurbs are working before installing them.
Use insulated light clips.
Secure your lights with plastic insulated holders or clips as shown here – never use tacks or nails. And never install your lights on trees that come in contact with power lines. The only thing that should be aglow this holiday are your lights, not you!
Use cord covers on all connections.
Protect your holiday light connections from rain and melting snow with a plastic cord cover. This is a much safer option than using masking tape and plastic bags. Simply snap the connector cover over your cord connection and, “Voila!”. These, too, can be found in most any hardware store during the holiday season.
Look for the UL Rating.
For safety’s sake, make sure your extension cords are rated for outdoor use. And avoid using long extension cords – anything over 75′ long, as they can overload your electrical circuit. Better yet, consider using energy-efficient LED lighting to cut down on electrical use. Finally, avoid stretching extension cords across high traffic areas, such as sidewalks or your driveway.
Always use waterproof lights.
Snow and rain can play havoc with your outdoor light, so always be sure to use waterproof or water-resistant lights that are marked with the Underwriters Lab tag. This is your sign that the lights meet national industry standards with the American National Standards Institute. Also, make sure the lights you are using outdoors are actually rated for outdoor use. Never use indoor Christmas lights outdoors.
Use C7 or C9 Christmas bulbs.
These cone-shape lights have been around since the Three Wise Men. C9 bulbs are the larger of the two and are easier to see from a distance. Our sister website, Commercial Christmas Supply, offers a complete selection of C7 and C9 Christmas bulbs in a wide choice of holiday colors as well as clear color and frosted varieties. Both are available in your choice of LED or Incandescent bulbs. (For more information about LED and Incandescent bulbs, see our earlier post.)
Or consider using Mini-Lights.
Another option for outdoor lighting is the “mini-light,” which uses less power than a traditional outdoor light string. Mini-lights are great for using around the perimeter of your home as well as in trees. Commercial Christmas Supply offers a wide selection of Mini-LIghts that are available in strands of of 50 bulbs.
Make sure to turn your lights off when you leave the house or go to bed at night. You’ll save power and won’t keep your neighbors awake all night. (Don’t worry: if you’ve been good, Santa will still find you!)