Christmas Lights & Decorations -Safety Checklist
Blinking lights, flashy decorations and the appearance of the various hues of red and green colors are some of the key indicators that the Christmas season is fast approaching. While decorating for the holiday season may be a fun and exciting aspect to look forward to, keep in mind that a lot of Christmas decorations pose electrical hazards that may cause fire or electrical injury. Wrong practices and the use of poor quality materials are some of the main factors that could compromise you and your family’s safety. Indoors or outdoors, be sure to implement safety precautions to limit the risk of any unwanted accidents.
Here are a few electrical safety tips to ensure an easy and safe preparation for your Christmas decoration set up:
SHOPPING FOR MATERIALS – CHRISTMAS LIGHTS & DECORATIONS
Before shopping for any of your materials, envision the design you want to see for your Christmas decorations. With a design in mind, preparing for the season will not only be safe and easy but thrifty as well.
- Categorize: Indoors or Outdoors? Make sure to check if all the materials you’ll be using will be suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Some materials can withstand certain environmental factors better compared to others. Placing a product in an unsuitable environment can result to fire hazards or electrical injuries. Double-check all your materials before setting them up. Label your lights and decorations according to its use. Never use indoor lights for outdoor use.
- Use Quality Materials. Never compromise your safety for the price of a lower quality material. Whether it is for your Christmas lights and decorations or even your extension cords, use products that are UL listed to be sure of the quality of the brand you will purchase. Understanding the meaning of these certifications will give you a brief overview and guarantee for the quality of the brand.
Here are a few guidelines for customers regarding the UL Product Certification:
- UL-Listed – Samples of the products have been tested by UL representatives and have been determined to meet UL’s standard for safety.
- UL Classification – Samples of the products and certain properties have been subjected to tests and evaluations. UL Classifications include that the product is applicable to UL requirements, standards for safety and other standards of national and international organizations.
- UL Performance Verification – Samples of the product has been tested and evaluated against a specific performance standard. UL verifies the products based on National or international industry performance standards, Manufacturer’s proprietary (internal) standards and UL requirements.
- For reference, check the color of the UL mark on the product’s package, a green UL mark indicates an “indoors only” product while a red mark indicates that the product is safe for indoor and outdoor use.
SETIING UP – CHRISTMAS LIGHTS & DECORATIONS
- Before setting up, inspect all the materials you will use. Check all lights, decorations and extension cords for any signs of damage: bared wires, cracked bulbs, broken plugs, and frayed insulation.
- Unplug all lights before replacing fuses or making any other repairs.
- Make sure to protect all of your electrical connections. Plugs and outlets should be placed indoors or in a dry area where water can’t pool around your electrical connections.
- Plot a direction for your cords inside your home to prevent anyone from being tripped. Don’t place wires and cords under rugs, furniture or near any combustible material. Covering the cords will cause frayed wiring and overheating, eventually causing a fire.
- When stringing lights outdoors, avoid contact with the power line. Keep a distance of 10 feet away from any overhead lines to avoid any lethal injury.
- Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for connecting strings of lights together. Avoid octopus connections for your lights to prevent short circuits from happening.
- Turn off all lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Consult professional services for technical concerns during the set-up of your Christmas decorations.
HAZARDS OF USING INCANDESCENT CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – LED vs. Incandescent
Some of the dilemmas that shoppers encounter during this season include making a choice between two of the most common types of Christmas lights available in the market – LED and Incandescent lights.
Despite of the presence of incandescent Christmas lights since the beginning, the lack of improvement in these lights presents a higher threat to safety as compared to LED lights.
The following are a list of potential dangers that incandescent Christmas lights bring:
- Heat Danger. One of the primary causes for damage to property and injuries caused by Christmas lights is fire. The lowest watt of incandescent light bulbs can generate extreme heat, which can burn anyone’s finger. Since glass bulbs are a good conductor of heat, overheated lights can cause an outbreak of fire when placed near combustible materials. LED Christmas lights are safer because they produce a minimal amount of heat and the bulbs are not made of glass but epoxy plastic material light bulbs. Compared to incandescent lights, LED lights operate at an extremely low wattage, making the light bulb cool to touch and safe from igniting combustible materials.
- Glass Breakage. Possibilities of light bulb explosion may also occur when the temperature inside the bulb turns cold and conflicts with the copper filament. Incandescent lights are known for their easy-to-break, thin glass bulbs. Curious children can easily break these lights and cause shards of glass to injure them. LED lights, on the other hand, are made of an unbreakable epoxy plastic material sealed into its sockets. The LED light bulb material reduces the risk of pets and children from getting hurt when accidentally chewed or touched.
- Electrical Circuit Overload. Incandescent Christmas lights consume up to 0.425 watts per bulb. You can connect only as many as 5 premium strings together and they can already cause a household’s circuit to become overloaded. Compared to LED lights that consume only up to 0.069 watts per bulb, the threat of a circuit overload is exceedingly minimal with LED Christmas lights.
- Increased electric bill consumption. Naturally, a higher consumption of wattage per bulb is also an indication of a higher electricity bill. Incandescent lights may be comparatively lower than LED lights in terms of purchase, but the cost for the use of incandescent lights exceeds than that of LED lights. Save as much as 10% off your power consumption with LED Christmas lights.
In conclusion, LED lights are safer and more practical to use compared to incandescent lights. The quality you choose for your lights and decorations is just as crucial as choosing the type of lights you want. More than the design and the output, the choice you make beforehand can make a difference in the long run.