Sparkle safely: Avoiding common mistakes with Christmas light decorations
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, November 28, 2017 6:00AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 28, 2017 7:21PM PST
Frayed wiring, loose connections and cracked sockets are just some of the problems that can put your home at risk when installing Christmas lights. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the safety issues involved with the beloved holiday tradition.
Whether you’re putting up Christmas lights inside or out, we’ve got some tips to keep your family safe.
Tip #1 – Plan ahead
Measure your roof to see how many lights you will need. Store bought lights come in specified lengths, but lighting installation companies like Shack Shine will custom cut your light strands. With trees and shrubs a good rule of thumb is 100 lights for every 1.5 feet of tree.
Tip #2 – Sparkle safely
Make sure your lights are in good shape. Watch for any cracked casings around the wires, or defective or worn plugs that could spark a fire.
And if you do have extra light string left over, you may be tempted to bunch it up and hide it in the gutters, which can then get covered with debris and snow. That’s a big mistake.
"You could short out your lights and potentially cause a fire in your house," said Paul Baluch, Shack Shine’s field operations manager.
If laser lights are your thing, keep them pointed towards a buildings, not at the sky or towards the street.
“Lasers aren't safe for you to look into especially when you have kids around," warned Baluch.
Tip #3 – Don’t overload sockets
The Canada Safety Council says you should have no more than three sets of lights per extension cord. It may seem obvious, but make sure you’re using CSA approved outdoor lights outside and CSA approved indoor lights inside.
Tip #4 – Ladder safety
Remember the four-one rule. For every four feet up, the ladder should be one foot out. And never install lights on your own. You always want two people on site at all times.
Tip #5 – Christmas tree safety
If you’re buying a live tree, check for freshness. The needles on fresh trees are difficult to pull from branches and won’t break when bent. Make sure to place the tree away from heat sources like fireplaces and radiators and keep it watered.
If you prefer artificial trees, look for a fire resistant label. The same goes for decorations. And don’t use metallic ornaments on the tree. They could be a shock hazard if they make contact with defective wiring.
According to the National Fire Protection Association one out of three Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems, and fires caused by candles also peak in December.