14 October 2009

Top 10 safety tips for christmas lights

Houses decorated with Diwali lights - India

In three days from now, we will celebrate Diwali - the festival of lights. Soon it will be time for Halloween and then before we know it, Christmas will be upon us. One of the major activities for all of these festivals is decorating our houses and streets with lights. Unfortunately, thousands of people around the country spend the holiday season in hospital - admitted for a decorating related injury including falls, cuts, electrical shocks and burns.

To stay safe and worry-free this Diwali and Christmas, follow these simple tips and avoid decorating hazards

1Make sure you use "outdoor" (weatherproof) lights for outdoors. The packaging should clearly state whether the lights can be used indoors, outdoors or both. Also use only certified, quality products

2When you unpack that box of lights from last year, first check it for defects - frayed wires, burned out bulbs, loose connections. Replace dead bulbs with bulbs of same wattage as original strand

3Use only plastic clips or hooks to hang the lights. NEVER staple or nail the light strings

4Do not place the lights near sources of heat such as heaters, fireplace, candles or even electronic items that are likely to become hot on use. Make sure none of the bulbs rest on the light string either

5Do not cover the light bulbs with inflammable material such as cloth or paper

6Check the recommended amount of light sets allowed on one string and the rating of the extension cord and power point to see that they are not overloaded. Also use a portable safety switch or connect to a circuit protected by your main safety switch. If in doubt, call a qualified electrician for proper outdoor lights installation

7Do not expose the extension cord to the weather or use it near water. Cover it if it is on a walkway and never place it across a driveway. Always unwind it completely to avoid overheating.

8Do not touch a festival-light display. Turn it off and unplug before you do anything

9Have a sturdy ladder for hanging the lights at heights. Move it as you work instead of leaning out. Check the balance each time you move

10Switch the lights off when you are not home, or are asleep

Have a happy festive season and holiday this year. Stay safe!

Geoff is a registered electrician with over 20 years experience in the industry. He is also licensed to provide data and voice services. Baishakhi is an MBA and looks after the "business" side of Epping Electrical. Read our story here.

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