Taking holiday decorating to extremes is fun. But accidents can happen, especially when using a lot of electronic decorations on the outside of the house.
Follow these safety precautions for outdoor decorating from CSA Group, a leader in electronic product testing and certification, to help make sure your house gets noticed for the right reasons:
• Put your faith in the magic of the holidays but don’t fall for fakes: Whether it’s a waving Santa, rocking sleigh, or light-up Rudolph, avoid counterfeit electronic decorations that haven’t been certified for safe use. Look for the mark from an accredited certification organization like CSA Group on light strings, extension cords, and animated displays. Make sure they are marked for outdoor use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Keep old holiday traditions, not old holiday lights: Carefully inspect light strings each year. Discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.
• Sparkle without the spark: Turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working with outdoor wiring. Unplug light strings before replacing bulbs and check to ensure replacement bulbs match the voltage and wattage of the original. To avoid a shock from damaged wire, use insulated fasteners rather than metal nails or tacks to hold light strings in place.
• Stay dry: Keep electrical connectors for outdoor lights above ground, out of water, and away from metal eavestroughs. Connect outdoor lighting into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). These can provide protection from electric shock by sensing ground leakage and cutting electrical power.
• Don’t be silly with strings: Make decorating a family activity by planning out this year’s theme with the kids, but don’t let children or pets play with light strings.
• Don’t overextend yourself: Use heavy duty extension cords for high wattage decorations and large electronically-animated displays and don’t overload extension cords.
• It’s more than a faux-pas to keep lights up all year: Outdoor holiday lights are made for seasonal use only; extended exposure can lead to damage. After the holiday season, take down decorations and store them in their original packaging to keep the proper use instructions for next year.
You can find more safety tips at www.csaholiday.com.