For most households, the holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year. But for the nearly 300 families that suffer a house fire during the holidays, devastating is a much more fitting descriptor. If you plan to hang holiday lights this year, take the appropriate precautions to keep your home and family safe.
Each year, decorative holiday lighting is responsible for over $16 million in property damage, numerous personal injuries, and sadly, a handful of deaths. To help you safeguard your family and home, the electricians at Harrison Electric share holiday lighting safety tips below.
Double Check for Damage Before You Decorate
Years of use and prolonged storage can slowly deteriorate your holiday lights. But deterioration isn’t always readily noticeable because holiday lights often continue functioning despite minor damage. Just because a string of lights (or any electrical decoration) appears to work, that doesn’t mean it’s inherently safe to use!
Before you hang a single light or piece of decor, make sure you inspect for the following red flags:
● Frayed wiring
● Missing bulbs
● Sheath damage
● Damaged sockets
If you observe signs of damage, even if they’re only minor, don’t use the affected lights; throw them away. However, if missing bulbs are the only issue you identify, you don’t need to toss them out. Simply insert a new bulb in each empty socket and your lights should be safe to use.
Opt for LED Bulbs Over Incandescents
It’s no secret that incandescent lightbulbs can get excessively hot. When those bulbs make contact with dry, flammable objects for prolonged periods — like Christmas tree branches, walls, or railings — they can certainly trigger a fire.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to avoid this scenario altogether: ditch the incandescents and opt for LEDs. Using LED bulbs can significantly reduce your chance of experiencing a lighting-induced fire because they generate minimal heat during operation. LEDs also offer a number of other benefits over incandescent bulbs, including:
● Better energy efficiency
● Longer lifespan
● Greater durability
If you’re not already hanging LED decorations around your house, you should seriously consider making the switch. You’ll save money on your holiday electric bills, enjoy more years of use, and most importantly, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your family and home are better protected.
Avoid Leaving Decorative Lights on Overnight
It’s tempting to want to leave your decorative lights on all night — after all, you only get to enjoy them for a few weeks out of the year, right? But keeping those lights on while you snooze can absolutely start a fire. Even if you’ve double-checked your lights for damage and taken other precautions to minimize fire hazards, ultimately, you can’t control the situation entirely.
Sometimes, holiday lights trigger fires despite the best preparation, so your best bet is to turn off your decorations every night when you head to bed. If you’re prone to forgetting, install a programmable light timer that will automatically shut them off.
If you’re 100% set on leaving your decorative lights on throughout the night, for safety’s sake, have your wiring and electrical panel inspected by a licensed electrician. A quick inspection will alert you to potential electrical system hazards that could put your house at risk for a fire.
Don’t Overload Your Wiring!
If you’re planning on hanging a bunch of lights, make sure your outlets, wiring, and electrical panel are properly equipped to handle the increased power demand. Many older homes contain outdated wiring that isn’t fully capable of powering an entire house in addition to a bunch of holiday lights.
If you know the electrical panel, wiring, outlets, and switches in your house haven’t been updated in 20-30 years, have a licensed electrician inspect the system before you decorate. Trying to power too many lights with outdated wiring or circuitry can easily overload your electrical system and put your safety at risk.
Need an Electrical Inspection in Minneapolis? Contact Harrison Electric
Before you break out the holiday lights, schedule an electrical inspection with one of our electricians at Harrison Electric. We specialize in a wide range of electrical services for residential properties throughout the Twin Cities metro and all our electricians are fully licensed, certified, bonded, and insured. To schedule an appointment or request a service quote, give us a call today at 763-544-3300 or contact us online.