Holiday Lighting Safety

Holiday Lighting Safety
  • Opening Intro -

    It is getting to be that time of year again.

    It is hard to believe, but the holidays are right around the corner and unless you have left your Christmas lights up from last year, it will soon be time to plan this year’s design and begin getting your supplies together.


Although Christmas and holiday light displays are beautiful and add to the cheer of the season, there is one point that is often overlooked until it is too late, and I don’t mean putting up so many lights that you bug your neighbors.  They just need to get into the spirit of the season and sometimes it just takes a little nudge.

Of course, safety is a main concern when preparing a holiday lighting display.  It is an easy way to get hurt if you are not careful and who wants to suffer through the holidays with an injury or even worse?  That is why it is important to keep safety at the top of your holiday list when you are putting up those strings of Christmas lights. 

There are a few precautions to take and it really comes down to being careful and making good decisions.   If it feels, looks, or seems unsafe, chances are it is unsafe and you just need to step back and reevaluate the situation.

Check out the lights

The first thing you want to do after deciding on your display is to check your materials.  When checking the lights, you will want to look for frayed or exposed wires and you need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how many strings of lights can be put on a single circuit.  It’s always tempting to just keep plugging them into one another, but that isn’t always the best option or idea. You can always use a ToolHQ electrical meter to test the power and make sure it is in within a safe range.

Once you are sure that your materials are in good working order and you are ready to start hanging your lights, you will need to make sure that you can accomplish the task and be safe doing it.  Chances are that you will be climbing a ladder and depending on what you want from your display will determine how high you will climb and how long you will stay on that ladder. 

You may even be spending some time on your roof.  Your roof is always a dangerous place to hang out, but in the wintertime elements, it may be even more so.  So inspect your ladder, make sure that it is in proper working condition and replace it if necessary.  But most importantly, follow the rules of ladder safety.

  1. Always place the ladder on a level surface.
  2. Never climb higher than the highest step as recommended by the manufacturer.(usually third from the top)
  3. Always keep three points of contact on the ladder.
  4. Never reach farther than your arms length.  That means don’t hang off of the ladder in order to reach something.  Don’t do it.
  5. Keep the ladder away from power lines and electrical lines.  It doesn’t matter what the ladder is made of- aluminum, wood or fiberglass.  It is best practice to just stay away.

Just getting high enough to hang the lights is tricky enough, with enough danger to keep you on your toes.  But then you have to actually hang the lights, whether in the trees or on the house.  You may be tempted to climb on the roof to get better access to the places that you want to string lights.  Remember that the hazards presented on the ladder are only compounded once you get on the roof. 

You are now high off the ground, on an unlevel surface, trying to carry equipment and strings of lights.  This is the part of the job that can be even more dangerous, especially with winter weather.  You never know when it is going to be raining, cold or even slippery because of ice and snow.  You need to be sure that you pick a time when these extra hazards are not present and use extreme caution.  In fact, most homeowners shouldn’t ever climb up on the roof of their homes.  I know that even after years of working on construction sites and the many DIY projects that I have attempted over the years; I still do not feel completely comfortable on the roof.

You do have the option to hire a contractor or a professional to do the work for you.  Sure, they cost more than your brother-in-law, but nobody ends up in the emergency room either.  It might just be an investment worth looking into.



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