Holiday Light Safety Tips: The Do’s and Don’ts of DIY Decor

November 8, 2021

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For millions of people, decorating their home for the holidays is a beloved tradition. Festive lights, shiny ornaments, and warm seasonal scents can come together to create a welcoming atmosphere that even Scrooge himself would enjoy! 

However, behind the breathtaking outdoor light displays and colorful decorations, there are some sobering statistics when it comes to safety. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 200 people get decorating-related injuries every day during the holiday season. In 2018, for instance, approximately 17,500 patients were treated in the ER after trying to install seasonal decor around their homes.

To avoid these calamities completely, you can always hire a pro to decorate your house, or even install permanent holiday lighting. If you’d prefer to DIY, keep these key safety tips in mind to make sure your home will look merry and bright all season long.

DON’T: Forget about risks to pets and children.

Those string lights around the base of your Christmas tree might look pretty, but how easily could your dog, cat, or 2-year-old nephew grab them? Child- or pet-proofing your home for the holidays might not be your main priority, but it can save you and your guests a lot of trouble in the long run. Keep fragile decorations and string lights up high, try to put extension cords in low-traffic areas, and have some safe toys around for little ones to play with instead of your treasured holiday decor.

DO: Replace old lights.

Even if those old string lights still work, they might lack the electric safety standards set by the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL). They could pose a serious fire hazard, especially if they’re traditional incandescent lights. Modern LED lights stay cool to the touch, and, as a bonus, one broken bulb won’t affect the other lights on the strand. 

If you don’t want to use LED lights, at least opt for smaller bulbs. Large, vintage-style bulbs can sometimes emit enough warmth to ignite dry Christmas trees, curtains, wrapping paper, or other common holiday items. 

DON’T: Use indoor lights outside.

Some lights are suitable for both outdoor and indoor use, but other string lights are designed specifically for one or the other. Outdoor lights may be used inside, but you should never put indoor lights around the exterior of your home. Indoor lights simply aren’t equipped to handle freezing cold temperatures, snow, ice, or strong winds. They might be cheaper, but they probably won’t last the season outdoors.

When you’re installing outdoor lights, remember to use weather-resistant extension cords as well. Standard extension cords can easily break or crack in sub-zero temperatures. Furthermore, never attach more than three strands of lights together or overload your extension cords. 

DO: Use the right equipment.

If you’re planning to string Christmas lights around your house, put down the nails, standard office staples, or any other item that could pierce the cords. Instead, opt for UL-approved clips that will safely keep your lights aloft without running the risk of breaking the cords or your roof. Outdoor-safe Command hooks or U-shaped electrical staples can also do the trick.

To minimize the risk of electric shock, it’s also recommended to use a non-metal ladder while installing lights. Also, as a reminder, always unplug the decorations before attempting to replace a lightbulb or fix a string of lights. 

DON’T: Leave your lights on unattended.

Most Christmas lights are seasonal decorations for a reason; they’re not meant to be kept on for weeks at a time leading up to your big holiday celebration. Whether you’re going to bed or running to the store, take a few seconds to switch off the lights. If you’re used to leaving the lights on or often forget to turn them off, investing in a light timer can be a great option. These handy devices can automatically turn your lights on when it gets dark outside and then off when you head off to sleep for the night.

DO: Ask for help.

Falls are among the most common decorating-related accidents that ER doctors see during the holiday season. You can protect yourself and avoid a trip to the hospital by simply asking for help installing decorations. For instance, ask someone to hold the ladder if you’re hanging lights around your roof. Remember that most people would be happy to help spruce up the house for Christmas (especially if bribed with cookies after the decorations are set up!). 

If you want your home to look picture-perfect for Christmas but can’t stand heights or fumbling around with lights in the cold weather, All American Turf Beauty can help! Our lighting pros can get your house decked out with beautiful seasonal or permanent lights while you stay cozy indoors. 

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