Tis the season for millions of Americans to head up on the rooftop to hang the holiday decor. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 12,500 people are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall, cuts and shock related to Christmas decorating. Ouch! Then there are fires from igniting Christmas trees (real and fake) and candles that kill or injure a couple thousand folks over the holidays, and cost millions in property loss and damage. Avoid claims on your homeowners insurance or health coverage and have a happier holiday with these safe hall-decking tips.
Use only UL-approved lights with fused plugs. Don’t use outdoor lights indoors or indoor lights outdoors. Check for frayed or bare wires, cracked or broken sockets and other damage. Replace burned out bulbs
with the same wattage. Toss damaged light sets and invest in new ones, ideally LED sets that burn cool and use less energy. Use no more than three sets of lights per extension cord, and please don’t use indoor cords outside. If you’re lighting outdoors, always use GFCI to prevent shock. Use a power surge protector
indoors, and never run electrical cords under rugs. Don’t leave lights burning when you go to bed. Turn them off. Even better, unplug them from the power source. While you're away, use an automatic timer to turn lights on and off, so you aren't signaling thieves that you're not home.
Use the right ladder for the job. Wood is the safest choice if you’re working with electricity. If you’re using a step ladder, don’t stand or sit on the last two steps. If you’re using an extension ladder, it should pull out 1 foot from the wall or edge for every 4 feet in ladder height. Make sure the ground is level, the base is steady and you’re working with a buddy on the ground to hold it in place. Wear a tool belt and sturdy shoes with non-slip tread. Don’t throw tools or supplies up to the roof or down to the ground. Stay clear of power lines and feeder lines.
Use plastic hooks to hang lights from gutters or roofs to avoid structural damage. Don’t use staples or nails to mount lights. You could damage the wiring and risk electric shock. If you have empty sockets, seal them
with electrical tape to prevent water damage and shorting out. Securely fasten outdoor decorations to trees, walls or other strong, stable surfaces so that winds can’t knock them down.
Never use electric lights on a metal tree. Buy artificial trees labeled fire resistant. If you’re buying a fresh tree, keep it well watered and don’t set it up near heating sources, open flames or places where small children or pets can accidentally tip the tree over. Select cool-burning LED lights on fresh and non-metallic artificial trees.
Okay. You’re all checked out. Go deck those halls and wow the neighbors!