Stay Safe Under the Holiday Lights
When asked to pick their favorite holiday films, movie buffs almost always name “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” as one of their favorite yuletide comedies. Among the more notable struggles faced by protagonist Clark Griswold in the film is stringing up the Christmas lights on his home.
While audiences can laugh at Clark’s flirtations with death during this ordeal, as anyone who has ever undertaken their own Christmas lighting knows, accidents are no laughing matter. They can prove deadly if you’re not careful. That said, consider the following safety tips before diving in to your own lighting display this holiday season.
• Don’t overdo it. One of the biggest hazards with holiday lighting is to overload electrical circuits with too many power chords and lights. This is a big mistake, as a house fire is the most likely result from such a scenario. While you might feel pressured to keep up with the neighbors, there’s no need to make your house visible from outer space. If an outlet appears overloaded, it probably is.
• Use external bulbs for the outside. External lights are built to handle the harsh weather of the holiday season. Internal lights aren’t as durable, in part because, if they’re indoors like their manufacturer intended, they’re easier to replace when they go out. However, lights that are placed along the trim of a home’s roof or atop a tall tree aren’t as easy to replace. So use the more durable external lights outside the house.
• Keep lights off when you’re not at home. Keeping Christmas lights on when you’re not home is inviting disaster. Not only will no one be around to fix a broken bulb, but no one will be around to call for help in the case of a fire as well.
• Avoid powerlines. Make sure no lights are wrapped around powerlines leading to or from your house or a neighbor’s house.
• Keep walkways clear. Make sure the driveway and sidewalks are clear of extension chords. In the case of snow or even if it’s just a dark night, extension chords on such surfaces can lead to injury. Just because you know the chords are there doesn’t mean any potential guests will, too.
• Keep other decorations away from lights. While it might appear beautiful to wrap tinsel around lights (be it inside or outside the house), tinsel is often made of metal foil, meaning it’s fully capable of conducting electricity. This can be a potential disaster, so make sure all decorations are separate from one another.
• Don’t be afraid to hire a pro. Just as you don’t have to take your axe out to the forest to cut down your own Christmas tree, you can also leave the lighting up to the pros. If you’ve never decorated a house with lights before, it can be a very dangerous affair, and one that doesn’t end up looking as glorious as you had hoped. Nearly every town boasts a company that offers a lighting service, so rather than risk injury, leave the trouble to the pros.