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Outdoor Christmas Lighting Safety Guide

Posted on: November 28, 2012

Here at Kolb Electric, we’re excited that Christmas is coming up soon—families throughout MD, DC, and VA have already started putting up their beautifully decorated Christmas trees. This time of the year also means that families in the area will decorate their homes with beautiful outdoor lighting to celebrate Christmas. Now, hundreds of homes each year are damaged as a result of faulty electrical wiring during the holiday season. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states that each year fires occurring during this season claim the lives of over 400 people, injure 1,650 more, and cause over $990 million in damage.

Outdoor Christmas Lighting Safety Tips

Fortunately, there are some simple outdoor Christmas lighting safety tips we recommend you follow to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following these precautionary lighting tips, individuals can minimize the risk of becoming a holiday fire casualty. You can trust us—we’ve been offering lighting help to our customers since 1925!

  • Avoid placing bulbs too close to gutters with dried leaves.
  • Make sure the strings of lights you’re using outside have built-in fuses—typically they are 3A mini-fuses.
  • Use Christmas lighting that’s specifically designed for outdoor settings only. If you use indoor-rated lights, they likely won’t be able to withstand the cold temperatures in MD, DC, and VA during this time of the year.
  • When stringing the light sets, be sure to add extra support near the ends where the plugs are. The wires on the ends of the string should never support the full weight of the light set.
  • Never hang any objects or decorations from the light sets—use a separate hook attached to the house to hang additional items.
  • Only use Christmas lights that have been tested and verified by a reliable, reputable testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
  • When installing lights, carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. These instructions should be stored with the lights and referred to when purchasing replacement bulbs and on future installations.
  • Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine the number of lights that may be safely plugged together. If this information is unknown, connect no more than three light strings together—this is a very important Christmas lighting safety tip.
  • Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
  • Make sure to periodically check your wires—they should not be warm.
  • Remember to use extension cords designed for outdoor use with three-prong plugs; never use an indoor cord or a cord without the grounding prong.
  • Keep Christmas light sets away from overhead power lines or the electrical feed from the street to your home.
  • All plugs should be plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI) when used outside.
  • Use timers that appropriately turn your Christmas lights on and off. Lights should be turned off when nobody is present at your home, and they should not be left on overnight.
  • Work with a partner when setting up your Christmas lights, and make sure you use a stable ladder.
  • Do not use nails, tacks, or metal staples to secure your outdoor Christmas lights—use insulated hooks instead.
  • Use plastic or vinyl-coated hooks to attach light sets to gutters. Using bare wire or metal hooks, or simply running the lights through gutter fasteners can cause a short.

We recommend that you following these outdoor Christmas lighting safety tips to avoid a catastrophe this holiday season. If you do require Christmas lighting help, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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