Deck the Halls! 10 Tips for Safely Decorating your Home for the Holidays

Dec 14, 2016
Categories: Home Insurance · Safety
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As the holiday season approaches, many homeowners will soon be hard at work putting the finishing touches on their decorations. Decking out the home with Christmas lights, wreaths, and garlands is a yearly tradition that can be a whole lot of fun. But, it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful.
Keep you and your family safe as you prepare for the holidays! Instead of nursing a broken ankle or frantically looking for a fire extinguisher, follow these simple tips to make sure you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your decorations.
1 – Pick a mild day to set things up.
Trying to string your lights with numb fingers, or precariously balance on a ladder while the wind is howling, is no fun and can quickly escalate into a serious health hazard. Don’t underestimate the dangers of frostbite, or how disorienting it can be trying to climb a ladder in heavy snow and high wind conditions. Dress warmly, take frequent breaks, and prioritize your safety over getting the decorations up by a certain day. Better to wait till next weekend than get yourself hurt right before the holidays.
2 – Read the manual. 
Always be sure to review the instructions your decorations came with to make sure you’re installing them properly and they are suited to the task. You don’t want to accidentally string a set of indoor lights outside where they’ll short out and fail, or bring a hot string of outdoor lights into the living room!
3 – Practice proper ladder and height safety. 
For many of us, climbing up on a ladder isn’t a regular or comfortable experience. Doing it once a year, outside in the cold snow, only complicates an already risky proposition. Before you climb up on a ladder, make sure it is fully deployed in a safe and locked position, firmly placed on even ground, and set up to let you directly access the area you need (no craning over to reach something at the top of the ladder!) You’ll also want to check your surroundings and be a safe distance away from any power lines or hazards.
If you need to get up on the roof for any reason, make sure it is safe to do so (not slippery, snow covered, or windy) and if at all possible, decorate with a partner. That way you have assistance should anything happen. You don’t want to be stuck if a gust of wind knocks over the ladder while you’re on the roof!
4 – Check your lights and cords before you start. 
Make sure there are no frayed wires or visible cracks on any line and no missing bulbs in any sockets. You don’t want to have spent an entire afternoon of decking out your home only to find out a string is dead and you need to tear half of it down and put it all up again.
5 – Use clips, not nails.
When stringing your lights, always use clips to attach them to your home, never tacks, staples, or nails. Any accidental piercing or crimping that compromises the insulated lining can pose a fire hazard. Besides, clips are easier on your home and are less effort to take down at the end of the season.
6 – Use quality outdoor extension cords.
Only use properly rated outdoor extension cords designed to be left outside in the cold for long periods of time. Be cautious about how much strain you place on them as well. Never daisy chain multiple extension cords or power strips together. Much better to take a trip to the hardware store and grab a longer cord than to risk a fire.
7 – Don’t get tangled up.
Try and avoid creating any tripping hazards with your cords. If you’re running extension lines to lawn decorations, plan it out ahead of time and avoid commonly used paths and walkways. Remember, even if it isn’t snowing when you set your ornaments up, sooner or later a nice blanket of snow is going to cover all those cords. You want them out of the way so you’re not tripping on them.
8 – Invest in an outdoor timer. 
Having your lights set to an automatic schedule to turn on when the sun goes down and off late at night is not only a smart, energy-conscious choice, it will also spare you the chill of having to duck outside in the cold to quickly plug or unplug a set of lights. Win-win.
9 – Be smart indoors as well.
Avoid any possible fire hazards when putting up your indoor lights. Keep bulbs away from curtains, drapes, furniture or carpeting. Make sure there are no empty sockets in any line. If you have any special ornaments that make use of a light socket for power, try to limit them to one or two per string of lights.
10 – Full season service.
Periodically check on your decorations throughout the season. Give your cords a once-over every now and then to check for new cracks or holes in the insulation. Make sure nobody has tripped on a cord and yanked it out of position, or placed something near a hot floodlight.
While going through all the extra effort to check your cords, plan them out, and install them carefully and correctly can seem burdensome, it’s worth it. Once you’re done you can just kick back, relax, and enjoy the season and your home with your family worry-free. A properly set-up and safe home display is the gift you give yourself.


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