The charming allure of twinkling Christmas lights adorning you home is hard to resist and for some people their outdoor Christmas decorations are a huge project that they take pride in creating every year. Unfortunately though outdoor Christmas lights are also the cause of hundreds of house fires every year. Such things can be avoided however as long as you do not get too carried away with the excitement of decorating and follow some basic outdoor Christmas lights safety tips.
Whether you will be stringing up just a few lights this year or you are planning a Clark Griswold level light display keeping all of the following in mind as you decorate is a must:
Stick to Smaller Bulbs
Large 7 volt and up bulbs may be bigger and shine brighter but that also means that they burn much hotter than their smaller counterparts. many of the fires that are caused by outdoor holiday lighting begin because these hot burning bulbs come in contact with gutters filled with dead leaves and other combustible debris or even with the exterior of the home itself.
It may take a few more lights and a bit more work to get the look you were hoping for with smaller bulbs but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Check the Ratings
For outdoor displays you should only ever use lights specifically rated for the purpose. Indoor lights are simply not designed to stand up to the elements and at best they will burn out quickly and at worst become a real fire hazard. The same holds true for electrical extension cords.
Many of the problems associated with outdoor Christmas lights can be avoided by making the switch from traditional lights to lights with cool burning, long lasting LED bulbs instead. The advances in LED technology over the last several years have been huge and although the initial cost may be a little higher LED lights are safer and also likely to last a lot longer than their more conventional counterparts and yet be every bit as beautiful.
If you are one of those people that likes to decorate the trees and bushes around your home – which really can look stunning – then in this day and age LED lights should be your only choice as they significantly decrease the risk that flammable organic material, leaves etc, will singe or burn.
Hang with Care
While actually arranging and hanging the lights can be a lot of fun it can also be rather dangerous. If you are going up a ladder to hang your lights then make sure that not only is that ladder tall and sturdy enough but that you have a helper with you who can hold things for you while you tackle the ‘fiddly’ bits (as well as help you make sure that everything is straight!)
You should also avoid using things like staples, nails or tacks to hang your lights. Instead use insulated hooks ( a few cents each from a local home store) and make sure that your lights are tightly fastened to prevent damage caused by sudden gusts of wind.
Angelica Pinto is an artist, interior design lover and Realtor serving the Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph, Ontario communities.