The holidays are nearly here again, and that means it’s very nearly holiday decorating season. Whether you break out the lights the day after Thanksgiving, you get way ahead of your decorating and start as early as possible, or you procrastinate and leave things late (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), you will almost certainly want to make sure you are prepared.
Holiday decorating may be a festive tradition, but it is also one that has some all-too-unfortunate statistics to go along with it. A number of people injure themselves or damage their homes by either using sub-par products or creating dangerous conditions with their holiday decorations that utilize electricity. If you want to reduce the risk of injury and avoid potentially damaging your property, here are a few holiday decorating safety tips you should follow this season.
Don’t Climb on Your Rooftop
Your rooftop makes up well over half of your home’s visible exterior, so naturally it makes sense to want to decorate it for the holidays. However, one of the leading causes of injury during the holiday season is people who injure themselves by not properly or safely working on their rooftop. Rooftops are steeply-graded, and that makes it particularly easy to slip and fall all the way to the ground. This gets even more difficult if your rooftop is wet or icy in any way.
However, there’s another really good reason to never place decorations directly on your rooftop—doing so often damages your roof. People tend to nail or staple down lights and other decorations to rooftops, and this often leads to leaks and other weaknesses that moisture exploits to get into your attic. The next time you experience any significant rainfall, you may find that your roof is leaking from roughly around the area where you installed these rooftop decorations. Do yourself a favor—never install holiday decorations anywhere that cannot be easily reached from the safety of a secure ladder.
Don’t Staple Lights to Your Eaves or Shingles
Stapleguns may seem like the fastest and most convenient way to affix decorations somewhere, but they are nowhere near the optimal choice for doing so. Stapleguns project these metal staples forward with considerable force, and any burrs or sharp edges on a staple can pierce right through the shielding protecting any electrical wires (particularly cheaply-made ones). The moment you plug your lights in, current starts flooding through that staple, creating heat that can start a fire.
If you want to hang holiday lights, we have a few alternative suggestions. First, consider buying a small pack of open-eyed, screw-in hooks. Running light strings and electrical wires through these hooks suspends them easily and without risking damage from staples or screws. You could also consider investing in stick-on light hooks or roof-mounted light hooks that are designed to work with your existing shingles to secure lights in place. These are generally super-affordable, widely available, and easy to use. Plus, they don’t cause any further damage to your home or to your holiday decorations, making them safe for almost any situation.
Always Use Properly-Rated Cords
Not all extension cords are created equal. Some are long while others are short. Some are thin while others are shockingly thick. However, one key difference is that some cords are rated for outdoor use while others are strictly for indoor applications. And under no circumstances is it a good idea to use an indoor-rated cord for an outdoor project.
Outdoor-rated cords are typically constructed from better, weather-resistant materials, are resistant to damage from piercing or puncture, and are typically grounded for added safety. Indoor cords are not only more prone to damage from exposure to the elements, but they are also more prone to shorts that can cause serious damage to your home or serious injury to anyone who comes in contact with it. That cheap cord on the internet may sound like a bargain, but always be sure it is rated for the job that you need it to do before purchasing.
Avoid Extension Cords Whenever Possible
Finally, extension cords themselves are an almost unavoidable part of holiday decorating, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Extension cords are always a potential source for trouble, including potential trouble for those around them. One of the leading causes of holiday decoration injuries comes from people tripping over an unexpected extension cord that runs across their path. When not properly secured, a cord could become entangled in someone’s feet, causing them to trip and get seriously hurt. Likewise, tripping over a cord can cause it to yank on its socket or whatever decoration is plugged into it, damaging important electrical devices and potentially causing an injury or fire.
If you do need to use an extension cord, keep as much of it away from walkways as possible, bind up any unneeded slack, and always completely tape down any exposed cord to prevent possible injury. Likewise, while it may not look the prettiest, do your best to put a visual notification of the cord’s presence in place, such as caution tape or a warning sign. This will help anyone who comes near the cord avoid a potential accident.Have a happy and festive holiday season from our team here at Mel Carr Electric! Dial (518) 500-3042 for an electrical service today.