It’s that time of year again, and though it’s hard to believe, soon we will be putting up the stockings, shopping for those gifts, sharing magical stories around the fireplace, and hanging Christmas lights. Here in Pensacola, Florida, where the average temperature in December is in the 60s, and we are surrounded by palm trees, it’s sometimes hard to get into the Christmas spirit. That’s what makes hanging up those lights even more important.
Most of us who decorate for the holidays rarely think about or realize the safety risks involved. But, according to the National Fire Protection Association, local fire departments respond to an average of 170 home fires per year caused by Christmas decorations. Forty-three percent of these are started by electrical distribution or lighting equipment. And, thousands of injuries occur each year throughout the country to folks falling while hanging Christmas lights or from electric shocks and burns. If that’s not bad enough, hundreds of small children nearly choke to death by chewing on or putting small bulbs inside their mouths. This year, before you get out those decorations you’ve been using for generations, read through our safety list first and make sure all protocols are in place.
First, Don’t Use Broken Bulbs and Always Replace Missing Bulbs
A missing or broken bulb can lead to fire, electric shock, or a nasty cut. Replace any missing or damaged bulbs before putting them up or hanging them on your tree. Most lights come with replacement bulbs, or you can buy them at your local home improvement store.
Switch To LED
Better yet, if you are still using the traditional incandescent lights, it’s time to make the switch to LED. LED Christmas lights use light-emitting diodes rather than filament to produce light. This means they won’t burn out like the traditional bulbs, and they don’t get hot to the touch. Therefore, they are much safer to use, and you can use them on and around your Christmas tree, wreaths, and garlands. They are also much more efficient, durable and they last longer than their counterparts.
Use the Right Ladder
When hanging up Christmas lights, always use a wooden or fiberglass ladder to avoid electrical shocks that can occur with metal ladders. Metal conducts electricity which can lead to electrical shocks. When decorating outside in our warm Pensacola air, keep ladders and decorations away from overhead power lines.
Only Use Lights With the UL Seal
Products labeled UL Rated have been tested by the Underwriters Laboratories and declared safe for use. Red UL marks indicate the lights are safe for indoor/outdoor use, and green UL marks indicate the lights are only safe for indoor use. UL is an independent organization concerned with general safety and dedicated to product testing and certification. If the lights you are using do not have this seal, it’s probably time to purchase new lights.
Use the Right Cord
Only use heavy-duty extension cords and avoid overloading them by using no more than three sets of lights per cord. When hanging decorations outside, always use extension cords labeled for outdoor use. Those not labeled as such were never meant for cold or wet environments.
Use Only GFCI Surge Protectors
When plugging in your lights, only use circuits protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCI outlets were made to shut down the circuit if there is too much current flowing through preventing electric shock and fire. How do you know if your surge protector is a GFCI? It should have a reset and test button in the center. You can purchase them at any home improvement or hardware store here in Pensacola.
Never Use Nails or Tacks On Electrical Cords
Instead of hammering in tacks or nails to electrical cords, use clips to attach lights to the house safely. You can buy clips made for holiday decorations at your local home improvement or hardware store.
Prevent Tripping Hazards
Place cords and decorations in low-traffic areas where they won’t be walked on. You can use anchoring pins or ground staples to secure extension cords to the ground. Try to avoid twisting, kinking, or crushing cords.
What About Safety When It Comes to Christmas Trees?
All of this is great for using holiday lights, inflatables, and other Christmas decorations, but what about when it comes to the most traditional decoration of all, the timeless Christmas tree. While most newer, artificial trees are made to be fire-resistant, look for a fire-resistant label when purchasing your tree. If buying a live Christmas tree, try to find one that is fresh. If needles are falling to the ground, it is probably too dry, and you should keep looking. Find a tree whose needles are hard to pull off the branches.
Once you get your fresh evergreen inside your Pensacola home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators, and other heat-related sources. Cut off about two inches of the trunk for new wood. Remember to water your tree and trim away branches as necessary. Following these tips will not only allow you to enjoy your sweet-smelling evergreen but help to keep your family safe.
Lastly, Hire a Professional Holiday Decorating Company
Finally, you can save yourself the headache and turmoil by hiring a professional company such as the experienced team at Lawn Master. We have been in the national Christmas Décor Franchise providing professional holiday decorating services and Christmas light installation for residences and businesses in the Pensacola area since 1998. Our staff has gone through extensive training at the national level, and are up-to-date on all of the latest trends and safety techniques. When you partner with Lawn Master for your holiday décor, you receive:
• A custom design
• Efficient installation
• Proactive in-season maintenance. This means if one bulb goes out, we will replace it
• Timely postseason removal of lights and décor
• Storage of lights and décor until next year
During this hectic season, why spend your time decorating? Hire professionals who have the proper equipment, trained staff, and modern state-of-the-art decorations, which is sure to make your neighbors green with envy. Give us a call today. You can reach us at 850-476-1601 or through our online contact us form here.
For more tips and ideas on lawn care, and tree and shrub care, check out our other monthly blog articles.