There may never be another year in history where we appreciate coming to the close of a year and the celebration of the holidays as much as we do in 2020. Because many of us won’t get to celebrate exactly how we have in the past this year, it seems all the things we can still do are being amplified to compensate for it—online shopping is reaching record highs, Christmas trees are finding their way into more rooms of the home than just the living room, and decorative holiday lighting is shining brighter and being placed in more extravagant displays than ever before. After such a dark year, it seems we want to put as much light into the world as we can!
Get the Facts About Holiday Lighting
Here at FireAvert, we are all for having a fantastic light display at your home for the holidays. However, we want to encourage you to learn more about decorative lighting safety this year so your celebrations can be merry, bright, and as safe as possible. Also, we recommend you plugging your decorative holiday lights into a FireAvert for home plugs to further protect your home and family from fires started by holiday lights!
Derek Vigstol, a Senior Electrical Content Specialist from the National Fire Protection Association, says “It never fails that every year we hear about fires or injuries caused by misused or misapplied lighting. And it stands to reason that this is because consumers and users of temporary decorative lighting products are under-informed of the dangers these products present.” The Electrical Safety Foundation International reports that “On average, 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year, resulting in 12 deaths, 24 injuries and $16.4 million in property damage. An additional 150 home fires per year begin with holiday lights and other decorative lighting, causing another 8 deaths, 16 injuries, and $8.9 million in property damage each year.” We think those statistics are too high! Read below for the information you need to know when hanging up lights for the holidays.
Holiday Lighting Information and Tips
- Restrict the time frame that you use your lighting equipment. The National Electrical Code limits decorative holiday lighting displays to 90 days. The NFPA shares that “often this lighting is installed outdoors, on bushes, and on trees and is exposed to the elements and many factors that can lead to damage or deterioration of the insulation on the conductors. This presents many shock and fire scenarios that can simply be avoided if the lighting displays are limited in how long they are up. So it is very important that this rule gets followed.”
- An overloaded electrical outlet is a major fire hazard. Plug strings of lights directly into the wall and keep the number to a minimum. If you need to use an extension cord, follow the rule of three shared by Rocket Homes: “Most manufacturers agree that plugging in more than three sets of Christmas lights into a single extension cord may cause problems with overheating. However, it depends on both the strand’s wattage and the maximum watt capacity of the plug. If you’re unsure of how to check the wattage of your home, you can use a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker instead of your wall outlet. Make sure you cross-reference the wattage of your Christmas lights to the amount of your power strip before you plug it in”
- Replace any string of lights that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. These can easily start a fire.
- Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Ensure that you have the correct type of lighting for the environment where you’ll be using it.
- Look For Christmas lights With A UL safety certification. Rocket Homes shares that “lights that have these certifications will be safer to use in your home, compared to lights that don’t have this certification.”
- Use Christmas light clips Instead of nails or screws. Rocket Homes shares “When hanging outdoor Christmas lights on your roof, don’t use nails or screws to secure the lights as they can puncture the wires, causing the lights to malfunction or, worse, shock the person installing them. Instead, opt for light clips found at any hardware store to secure the lights onto the house. The clips are safer for the Christmas lights and will cause less damage to your roof, compared to nails or screws. Outdoor Command hooks can also be stuck to your home and will safely hold strands of lights in place.”
- Don’t run Christmas lights through windows or doors. “When closed on the light strand, windows and doors can cause wires to break or become frayed from constant pressure, making them a safety hazard for shocks or electric fires,” says Rocket Homes.
- Secure all loose light strands. “If you need to use an extension cord or have a long strand of lights between your Christmas tree and outlet, make sure you secure all loose light strands with electrical tape to avoid tripping and falling. If you have loose light strands outdoors, secure them with ground staples found at any hardware store”, shares Rocket Homes.
- Don’t forget to turn them off! Rocket Homes shares the following: “Christmas tree lights should not be left on for prolonged periods of time or overnight. Even LED lights can overheat, and with a combination of a dry Christmas tree, could cause a fire. Make it a habit to turn off your Christmas lights every time you leave the house or go to bed at night. To make it easier, purchase a light timer for your Christmas tree lights and set it to a time to turn off every night and back on the next day. You can also buy a wireless control or smart plug to shut off your lights through an app on your phone.
We Wish you a Safe Holiday Season!
We definitely learned a few tips from these helpful websites (NFPA, ESFI, Rocket Homes) and we hope as you review them you’ll be able to have a holiday lighting display that is as safe as it is beautiful. Because in 2020, we definitely need light now more than ever!