Holiday Decorating Safety: A Short Guide for Chicago Homeowners

One of the best things about being a homeowner during the holiday season is decorating! Right now is the time for millions of families across the country to bring the holiday cheer out of storage and don their homes with twinkle lights, ornaments, and greenery.  Of course, Chicagoland is a particularly festive region, so we know a thing or two about holiday lights!

Unfortunately, there’s a darker side to all of that holiday sparkle. Countless accidents happen each and every year, and it’s your job to make sure that you don’t become one of those statistics.

Safe Handling of Holiday Lights and Decorations

It’s easy to get into decorating mode and forget that with all the fun, comes plenty of responsibility. It’s important to understand how to keep your home safe, because the emergence of holiday decorations also brings the potential for fires.  Don’t let a preventable accident ruin the holiday season for you and your family. Keep these safety tips in mind as you and your loved ones deck the halls:

  • When decorating outdoors, only use products that are specifically rated for outdoor use. The use of indoor-only products outside, exposed to weather can result in electric shock and fire hazards.
  • Only use lights, electric decorations and extension cords that are UL-listed.
  • Always check the UL-mark on a product’s package if you’re unsure as to whether light strings are rated for indoor or outdoor use.  Green holographic UL marks say, “indoors only, please,” while red ones indicate that a product is safe for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • Whether new or old, inspect all lights, electric decorations and extension cords before use for signs of damage to wire insulation, plugs and bulbs.  If there are any signs of damage, do not use.
  • If you need to replace bulbs, fuses or make any other repairs, be sure to unplug everything, first.
  • If you need to replace a bulb in a string of Christmas lights, be sure the wattage rating of the replacement bulb matches that of the light strand.  If you use a bulb with too high a wattage, it can cause the entire strand to overheat, posing a potential fire risk.
  • When hanging lights outdoors, opt for a ladder made of non-conductive materials, like wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic.  Metal ladders pose electric shock hazards.
  • Only use holiday décor in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Avoid connecting (end-to-end) more than three strands of lights.
  • Don’t overload your extension cords.  Check the wattage ratings of your extension cords as well as the power requirements of any lights or decorations you plan to plug into them.  If you exceed the combined posed requirements, you run the risk of overheating, and a fire can occur.
  • Always turn off all lights and decorations before leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Periodically check wires, connections and strands to make sure that they’re not warm to the touch.
  • Be sure that any artificial trees or garland you plan to decorate is flame retardant.
  • Always make sure that live plants and trees that are decorated have plenty of water.  Dry needles and leaves can catch fire easily if something starts to overheat.

Your home is arguably the biggest and most important investment you’ll ever make, and you want to keep it safe for decades to come. Don’t take any chances this holiday season! Use these safety tips to keep your property and family safe, and remember that a little common sense goes a long way. Cheers to a happy, healthy holiday experience to you and yours! 


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