While I try to keep things fun and lighthearted here on the Ornament Shop Christmas Blog, I also feel it’s essential to take a moment every now and again to discuss the importance of holiday safety.
I’ve talked about holiday fire safety in a previous post and deeply recommend giving it a look before you read any further. Hundreds of home fires start with Christmas trees, and I want to do everything I can to help bring that number down to zero.
Of course, there’s more to holiday safety than fire prevention! So as you prepare to hang your Christmas ornaments, run your lights, and set up your favorite inflatable yard decorations, keep these simple tips in mind to stay safe this winter.
Always use the right tools for the job.
When you’re decorating your home, it’s important that you always use the right tools for the job.
If you’re hanging lights, use a wooden or fiberglass ladder instead of a metal one. Metal ladders conduct electricity and can be very dangerous when working with long strings of lights. Using a wooden or fiberglass ladder will greatly reduce the risk of electric shock.
You also want to be sure your ladder is long enough. It should extend a minimum of three feet past the edge of your roof. Make sure the area at the base of the ladder is clear of clutter and away from a door. If it looks unsafe, chances are it is unsafe – trust that instinct!
Likewise, you want to dress the part! Wear a good pair of waterproof boots with a good tread. It’s recommended that you work with a set of electrical insulating gloves whenever you work with lights and wiring.
Finally, never decorate alone. If you need to use a stepstool or ladder, it’s much safer when you have a friend or family member hold it steady for you. Having someone else on-hand can help prevent mistakes and could be life-saving in the case of a serious mishap.
Plan ahead and pay close attention to your environment.
Taking time to organize your decorations and tools is more than just a time saver – it can help keep you safe, too! You’ll be less tempted to use a screwdriver as a hammer or a bucket as a stepstool if you round-up everything you need ahead of time.
This will also help you avoid making common (and dangerous) mistakes. For instance, you’ll want to keep lights, wires, and extension cords away from water, puddles, and snow. Be sure you’re working in a well-lit environment, away from powerlines and other potential hazards. Taking a few extra minutes to plan everything out will make for a much safer decorating experience.
Use LED lights when decorating your tree and home.
LED stands for “Light-Emitting Diode.” You’ve almost certainly seen them before; they’re super popular nowadays due to their energy efficiency and long lifespan. But there’s another benefit to using LEDs when decorating your tree and home: They run much cooler than incandescent lighting!
Because LEDs are literally cool-to-the-touch, there’s a substantially reduced risk of fire. Likewise, LEDs are made from epoxy lenses instead of glass, making them more durable and less prone to shattering!
LED lights can be used indoors and outdoors, but if you intend to use them outdoors, check the packaging to be sure they are rated for outdoor use!
Outdoor lights need to be much more rugged than indoor lights, as they have to withstand the elements, including rain and snow. Labels from nationally recognized laboratories (such as Underwriter Laboratories, or UL) ensure the decorations meet safety requirements for outdoor usage. For example, UL’s red holographic label signifies the lights are safe for indoor and outdoor usage.
Inspect all lights and wiring before you plug them in (even if they’re brand new).
It’s important to inspect all ornaments, lights, and decorations that plug-in to an outlet before you connect them to a power source. Watch out for torn and frayed wires, loose connections, cracked plugs and sockets, broken bulbs, or any other damage. If you find any electric decorations with these issues, they should be thrown out, retired, or replaced.
One more thing: You’ll want to inspect all bulb sockets. Every socket should have a bulb, even if it’s a non-working socket, to help reduce the risk of an electrical fire.
Keep a close eye on pets and small children.
Be mindful of pets and small children! They’ll want to play with all of the shiny decorations and lights, but shouldn’t. Broken glass ornaments can be a serious health risk if not cleaned up right away, and smaller decorations can be a choking hazard. These adornments should be hung high up and away from pets and kids.
Likewise, some ornaments and decorations may contain chemicals or sharp pieces that could be harmful to pets and children. Keep these perched securely on the higher branches and shelves of your home in the name of safety.
Do you have any holiday decorating safety tips? I’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments.