Lights and Decorations
When shopping for lights, electric decorations and extension cords, purchase only the ones that are UL-listed.
If you’re planning to decorate outdoors, make sure that you use lights and decorations that are rated for outdoor use. Putting indoor-only products outside in the weather can result in electric shock and fire hazards.
If you’re in doubt as to whether light strings are rated for indoor or outdoor use, just check the color-coded UL mark on the product’s package. A green holographic UL mark says, “indoors only, please,” while a red one indicates that the product is safe for both indoor and outdoor use.
Whether they’re brand-new out of the box or seasoned veterans from holidays past, before you put them up, inspect all lights, electric decorations and extension cords for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs and bulbs. If cords and plugs are damaged, discard and replace the decoration.
Always unplug lights before changing bulbs, replacing fuses or making any other repairs.
If you need to replace a bulb in a string of Christmas lights, make sure that the wattage rating of the replacement bulb you’re using matches that of the light strand. Using a bulb with too high a wattage can cause the light string to overheat, creating a fire risk.
When hanging Christmas lights outdoors, reduce your risk of electric shock by passing up metal ladders in favor of ladders made of non-conductive materials like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.
Before you begin decorating, verify how many strands of lights it is safe to connect end-to-end (as a general rule, it’s 3).
Be careful not to overload extension cords. Before you start plugging in, find out the wattage rating of your extension cord, as well as the power requirements of any lights or decorations you’re planning to plug into it. A wattage rating is the amount of electricity that an extension cord is built to carry, and if the combined power requirements (or “pull”) of your lights and decorations exceed that rating, overheating and fire can occur.
Every so often, check Christmas light wires to make sure that they’re not warm to the touch.
Always turn off all Christmas lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.
— Christina Hansen is a product specialist at CableOrganizer.com, a leading provider of cable, wire and equipment management solutions.