Holiday decorating is a time-honored tradition, and yet it seems to change and improve every year. Today’s holiday lights are more fantastic than ever before, and new technology has given them new flexibility and capabilities. Likewise, these improvements have also made outdoor decorating easier, and in many ways safer as well. That’s great news for anyone who might be a little nervous about using electricity in an outdoor setting.
However, whenever you use electricity outdoors, there is always a risk associated with it. If something goes wrong, you could find yourself dealing with a potentially dangerous situation. While it might be rare, homes are damaged by holiday decorations every year, and you certainly don’t want that to happen to you. However, as long as you follow some important safety recommendations and use some common sense, holiday decorating doesn’t have to be risky.
Here are a few simple tips you can follow to enjoy safer outdoor decorations.
Never Use a Staplegun
Have you seen the Christmas classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?” There’s a rather infamous scene where Clark Griswold, the film’s protagonist, heads up to his roof with his trusty staplegun to attach more than a few decorative lights. What the film doesn’t show is just want can happen when you staple lights to your home.
These heavy-duty staples often contain sharp edges, and these edges can penetrate through the thin plastic shielding that surrounds the electrical cables of a light strand. When they do, they could cause a short in the strand, sending current surging through the staple itself. This causes the staple to get blistering hot in a short amount of time, potentially sparking a fire. Instead of using staples, we recommend either insulated tacks that place a layer of cushion around the wires to prevent accidents, or using hooks to suspend light strands. If you want to put lights on your roof, we recommend specialized roof attachments designed for securing lights down—they don’t clamp onto lights, and they also don’t damage your roof in the process!
Always Use Outdoor Rated Extension Cords
Not all extension cords are created equal. With a market that has been flooded with low-cost, mass-produced cords that are available at dirt-cheap prices, it can be hard to tell if a cord is right for what you need. However, let us provide you with one piece of advice: never use an extension cord that isn’t rated for outdoor use in an outdoor application. Indoor use cords are often constructed using weaker materials because they are fine for light-duty use. But when you add exposure to the elements into the picture, these cords tend to fall apart quickly, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
Outdoor rated cords often feature more durable and robust materials, including advanced shielding that is resistant to penetration and exposure to the elements. They are also capable of withstanding long hours of exposure to sunlight, which can destroy weaker materials. Finally, outdoor-rated cords are almost always grounded, meaning they have the all-important grounding post on their plugs (the third prong at the bottom-center of a plug). Always use these cords in conjunction with a ground fault interrupter for complete safety and peace of mind.
Don’t Run Inflatable Decorations for More Than a Few Hours
Have you seen those big inflatable decorations that are popping up everywhere? They’re growing extremely popular, and the market has been flooded with quite a few different models to meet your decorating goals. While they might look good, some of the cheaper models aren’t exactly built to last. They use lower-quality materials and components to keep costs down, and in return you only get a year or two of use out of them before something fails and they give out.
The most common part to give out in one of these inflatables is the air pump motor. These motors need to be able to run for hours on end, often in some varying conditions. For a cheap motor, this isn’t exactly ideal operating conditions. As a result, they wear out quickly and eventually fall apart. When they do, they could become somewhat of a hazard. We recommend only running these inflatables for a few hours a day, and ideally at night when temperatures are cooler. This helps dissipate the heat these pumps generate through their normal operation.Have a safe and happy holidays from all of us here at Lightning Bug Electric! Give us a call at (404) 471-3847 today to request a service if you need help with an electrical issue.