Electrical Safety Tips: Outdoor Holiday Decorations

What to Know About Outdoor Christmas Decorations

Do you love decorating for the holidays? Whether you go simple with classic white string lights or create a winter wonderland full of reindeer and snow globes, your options for outdoor holiday décor are endless. Unsurprisingly, with the season’s emphasis on light displays, many of those decorations require power to operate. It is also not uncommon to see both lighted and animatronic roof decorations. For example, some people have a sleigh and reindeer installed on their roofs or even inflatables.

Common types of outdoor decorations that require power:

  • String lights
  • Fairy lights
  • Tree hangings
  • Lighted sculptures
  • Animatronic sculptures
  • Inflatables

When it comes to outdoor holiday décor, safety should always be a top priority. Because so many décor items have extensive power requirements, they also have the potential to create an electrical hazard. Keep reading for a review of electrical risks associated with outdoor décor and some holiday decoration safety tips.

Safety Risks Associated with Outdoor Décor

Electrical shock is a potential hazard for all things that require an electrical connection. Furthermore, many of these décor items also have the potential to create an electrical fire if not installed and operated correctly. Beyond the electrical risks, holiday décor can create additional hazards, such as tripping hazards, and cause damage to your property if not managed correctly, and falls associated with hanging Christmas lights are common.

Though electrical shocks and fires are made comical in popular movies like Christmas Vacation, they are incredibly serious and can even be fatal. This year, make safety your priority.

How to Decorate for the Holidays Safely

When decorating your home’s exterior for the holidays, your first step should be a safety review of your planned decorations. Check all décor items to ensure that you have all the necessary parts and that your decorations are in good condition. Anything broken or showing signs of wear should be professionally repaired, or it should be replaced.

Make sure all of your exterior decorations are rated for outdoor use. Though you may find some great decorations that you want to incorporate into your design, if it isn’t rated for outdoor use, it isn’t safe to use outside. Frequently, things aren’t rated for exterior use because they are not watertight, and/or safe operation outside, in the elements, cannot be guaranteed. It is always better to be safe than sorry; never use inside decorations outdoors.

Other important safety tips include:

  • Make sure any extension cords being used are rated for outdoor use
  • Don’t overload outlets or sockets
  • Take care when using ladders or working on your roof
  • Carefully review the installation and operation instructions for all decorations before setting them up
  • Do not leave your lights and other electronic decorations on overnight or when you are away from home
  • Keep decorations, power cords, etc. away from standing or pooling water
  • Make sure decorations, cords, and string lights are fastened securely
  • If stapling or clamping down cords, make sure that the cord is not punctured or damaged
  • Avoid placing decorations near power lines or where your electrical supply comes into your home

It is also highly recommended that all outdoor decorations be plugged into GFCI outlets to help prevent electrical shocks. If your outdoor outlets are not GFCIs, consider upgrading your outlets with the help of one of our electricians. GFCI outlet upgrades are relatively inexpensive and vastly improve the overall safety of your home’s electrical system.

At Lightning Bug Electric, we love the holiday season. We are also committed to helping our customers decorate and power their homes safely all winter long. We are just a quick phone call away if you need help with any aspect of your electrical system, such as installing new outlets or upgrading your service panel.