Outdoor Holiday Decorating Safety

11 Dec

Whether you are turning your yard into Santa’s Workshop or stringing a few lights around your cozy cottage, neighborhoods full of twinkling lights are a staple of holiday cheer. But before you dazzle onlookers, make sure you are aware of the precautions you need to take in order to light up the night safely.

Ladder Safety

There are unfortunately thousands of injuries every year due to improper ladder use. Ladders should extend at least 3 feet above your roof or the surface you are attaching lights to. Never stand on your toes or the top rung of the ladder. If you have to do this, the ladder is not tall enough for your purposes. The second rung from the top is as high as you should climb on a step ladder.

For extension ladders, use the 4-to-1 Rule: for every four feet of distance between the ground and point of contact (such as the roof), move the base of the ladder out one foot. You never want to stand higher than the fourth rung from the top on an extension ladder.

No matter what type of ladder you are using, make sure it is safe before you climb. Ensure the rungs are dry and clean and all locks are secure. Wear slip-resistant shoes and clothes that will not get in your way. While on the ladder, keep your body weight centered and do not overreach. Both your feet should be securely planted on the ladder at all times.

Light and Circuit Safety

Many people like to use lots of lights to create awe-inspiring holiday displays, but it is important to use caution when powering all these lights. Overloaded circuits and loose connections can cause shocks and fires. If you are purchasing new lights for decorating, go for LED lights which burn cooler than incandescent lights. An added bonus of LED is that they use less power, so your electric bill won’t take as big of a hit.

Only buy lights from a reputable, trustworthy company. Quality lights will also come with safety information from the manufacturer, which you should be sure to read and adhere to. Plan your lighting display around available light sockets, keeping in mind not to overload any sockets. Do not connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together.

When mounting lights, be sure they are supported and affixed in a way that does not harm the insulation wrapping the wire. Only use lights that are specifically designed for outdoor use outside. These lights should be plugged in to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting outlet (GFCI). You can tell an outlet is a GFCI outlet because it will have “Test” and Reset” buttons on it. These outlets cut the current if it detects moisture or detects that the current is getting too hot. Once the conditions are corrected, you can press the “Reset” button and the lights should work properly again. Always unplug lights before you leave the house or go to sleep to prevent them from overheating.

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57 Responses to “Outdoor Holiday Decorating Safety”

  1. Jason December 11, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    Big one I learned from Grandad, be SOBER when putting up lights. Beer + ladder = danger.

    • Ekanem December 11, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      I liked the measurement guide for how tall the ladder should be. Very helpful. Thanks!

  2. Dustin December 11, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    Always use a sturdy ladder.

  3. Jeff December 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Always place the Christmas tree a good distance away from the fireplace!

  4. Brad December 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Do not plug too many plugs into the same outlet

  5. Carol December 11, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Don’t put out items that can hurt animals .

  6. Michelle Weaver December 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    I think it is important to make sure your tree isn’t near a fireplace where flames could spark onto it.

  7. Nat December 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    Do things!

  8. Henry December 11, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    If you have pets, hang your ornaments a bit higher so they can’t knock them down or break them!

  9. Brian December 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    House next door had an accident last winter where the guy fell off his ladder (while hanging the lights) and fractured his leg. It could have been a lot worse had there not been bushes. This info is really important!!!

  10. Joel December 11, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    Make sure to wear layers!

  11. Mary Withrow December 12, 2013 at 12:08 am #

    It always helps to have someone holding the ladder when you are putting up outdoor lights. Remember your pets and children indoors and out for cords. Always turn out lights before working on them to replacing bulbs and such. Often old light sets become much hotter and should be replaced and not used. I would even suggest plastic bulbs around children and pets

  12. Rita Corey December 12, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    Check for overhead power lines before setting up that ladder.

  13. Richard Morales December 12, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    Make sure to keep your tree well watered and don’t leave the lights on when not home.

  14. curiouskit10 December 12, 2013 at 3:02 am #

    Other important safety tips: remember that holly and poinsettia are toxic to pets.

  15. Cynthia C December 12, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Don’t use the top rung of the ladder. I don’t even use the one next to the top, I just don’t feel secure there.

  16. Sarah Hirsch December 12, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    don’t put candles near the tree

  17. Linda Lansford December 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    don’t leave boxes on the curb to let bad people know what to steal

  18. John Leahy December 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Make sure your burning Yule Log is extinguished before you go to bed!

  19. Catherine Shaw December 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Consider battery-powered candles in place of those that burn. Much safer, for you and for pets.

  20. Sharon Kaminski December 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    keep things off the floor to avoid tripping

  21. Lindsey K December 12, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    Use artificial trees for a reduced fire hazard.

  22. Michael Mayhew December 12, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    I like this tip For extension ladders, use the 4-to-1 Rule: for every four feet of distance between the ground and point of contact (such as the roof), move the base of the ladder out one foot.

  23. Leesa December 12, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    I feel the number #1 thing at Christmas to be safe at is the Holiday lighting. After reading the info on safety w/lights, never overload the sockets, and always check the lights for flaws. It would be horrible to burn the house down at Christmas.
    Happy Holidays to All.

  24. James Fransee December 13, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Never stand above 2nd rung from top of ladder is huge. My stepdad learned the hard way and took a nasty fall.

  25. angela smith December 13, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    dont connect too many strings of lights together.and dont leave candles unattended.always have someone with you when your outside putting lights up with a ladder so they can hold the ladder.

  26. Danielle P December 13, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Love the safety decorating ideas!

  27. Hayley December 14, 2013 at 1:43 am #

    If needed, have someone hold your ladder so you don’t get stuck on the roof

  28. Wicker December 15, 2013 at 2:14 am #

    Quit asking hardware stores for double male plugs.

  29. Ken Pierson December 15, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Keep your driveway plowed to avoid ice accumulation!

  30. Angela December 16, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    Make sure to have a spotter when climbing a ladder!

  31. sandra December 16, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    it’s important to be wary of lighted candles

  32. Susan G December 16, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Don’t leave lighted candles burning whenever you leave your home.. blow them out before you leave.

  33. CJ Godfrey December 16, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    I like the tip about the ladder extending 3 feet above the roof. Also make sure your body weight is centered.

  34. nickie December 17, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Always use a sturdy ladder.

  35. Tyler D December 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Make sure the base of your tree is sturdy enough the cats won’t knock it over.

  36. Priscilla S. December 18, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    Make sure your tree is well watered and never leave the lights on unattended.

  37. Sally December 18, 2013 at 2:49 am #

    I always check my lights before I put them up for Christmas to make sure the cord is in good shape with the insulation in tact and the plug is clean and looks correct not burnt or ruined in some way!

  38. Stephanie December 18, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Make sure your animals can’t chew on the lights.

  39. Joanna Allison December 18, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Don’t stand on the top rung of a ladder.

  40. Mariecor and Jason December 19, 2013 at 3:56 am #

    Thanks so much for the cool information on Safety for the holidays 🙂 Meanwhile, we’d like to add that pet owners have to also be mindful of their pets, because pet safety is important, too! The same goes for children of all ages being safe around decorations 🙂

  41. Steve December 19, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    Always make sure your live tree is watered. Also have your chimney checked.

  42. Michael W Perkins December 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    No more than 3 strings of lights per socket

  43. Bonny December 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Make sure you unplug your Christmas light, when you are not home.

  44. Karen Matlock December 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Make sure to water your tree! I have forgotten this in years past 🙁

  45. Carl G December 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Make sure your ladder is really secure before climbing

  46. Anna H. December 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    You should always use a sturdy ladder.

  47. Richard Hicks December 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Don’t overload the outlet with too many gadgets

  48. nikki December 20, 2013 at 1:24 am #

    educate yourself before attempting any of these things. don’t try to do something you’re not qualified to do that can endanger yourself or others.

  49. kris m December 20, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    turn the tree off at night

  50. Kathleen Marie Smith December 20, 2013 at 3:25 am #

    Watering your tree and keeping it from drying out is very important

  51. Sharon December 20, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    I think all of your tips are great but I also think when you are on a ladder you should always have someone at the bottom of it holding it for extra safety, especially if someone older is decorating like my stubborn parents!:)
    Thanks for the helpful post! Merry Christmas!

  52. Carol Mclemore December 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Do not plug too many plugs into the same outlet.

  53. Stephanie Larison December 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    Keep your ornaments high enough to where the little ones can’t get a hold of them.

  54. CharityS December 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Always test for faulty holiday lights.

  55. Susan Smith December 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    Don’t connect too many strings of lights together and dont leave candles unattended.

  56. Beverly Metcalf December 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    I think it’s important if you have a real tree to keep it well watered and if your putting up lights outside use a sturdy ladder. Thanks for having this contest.

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