Beautiful twinkling lights are a great way to add some festivity and warmth to your home during the holiday season. However, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind when you are getting your home ready to put up holiday lights so that you aren't met with a holiday disaster.
Learn the Voltage of All Your Holiday Lights
The one thing you don't want to risk doing when doing your initial setup is either tripping a circuit breaker or blowing a fuse. It wouldn't be dangerous, but it would add holiday stress. Be sure to read the voltage rating of all your lights. It should be listed either in the manual or somewhere on the cord itself on an attached sticker.
Remember that older homes will generally be rated for up to a maximum of 1800 watts, newer homes for close to 2400. If you're really unsure if you are nearing your limit of the amount of electricity your home can handle, use a handy online wattage calculator to find out how much of an extra load you are going to be putting on your grid. Some homes have a lot more leeway than others. If you're beginning to overload one circuit (inconsistent power, devices turning off and on), switch to a different outlet controlled by a different circuit.
Do Not Use Lighting on a Dry Tree
Having a dry tree circled with multiple strands of colorful bulbs, all burning up at a temperature that can quickly reach an ambient total of 200+ degrees, is a recipe for disaster. While putting lights on a dry tree isn't a guaranteed fire risk, the risk simply isn't worth the beauty. You can easily accomplish a similarly pleasant aesthetic with ornaments and other keepsakes that do not generate heat. You can, however, attach your lights to a well-watered tree or a faux tree.
Ensure Your Holiday Light Are Plugged Into Their Own Socket
As discussed earlier, knowing how much load you are putting on a circuit is vital to keeping the total electrical operation of your home intact. Never overload one circuit with an abundance of lights. If you are sharing a socket with many other electronic devices, make sure that you check the voltage that each uses. If you plug in too many devices that need a lot of power into one socket, it can overload the circuit. At the very least, this will damage the circuit. However, it can cause fires in some situations.
In most homes, you can examine the breaker box to see marked switches that clearly show which circuits go to which outlets in the home. Test which outlets work and don't by switching off a circuit one at a time. If you're not sure, then put all your lighting in its own socket for convenience and safety.
Check Your Extension Cord For Safety
Cheap extension cords are one of the most pointed to causes of fire and electrical damage during the Christmas season. Why? It is because they are the least resistant to frying, unlikely to be waterproof, and more prone to just general breaking and losing effectiveness.
If you're using outdoor extension cords, you need waterproofing to avoid shortening out. Visually inspect the length of the cord yourself for exposed wiring, as well as any noticeable cracks or breaks. While you're at it, check the socket that the cord is connected to for further weatherproofing safety.
If you do happen to damage your circuits, breaker or outlets when setting up your Christmas lights, a quick call to a local electrician can remedy any damage you might have caused.
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