Whether you are turning your yard into Santa’s Workshop or stringing a few lights around your cozy cottage, neighborhoods full of twinkling lights are a staple of holiday cheer. But before you dazzle onlookers, make sure you are aware of the precautions you need to take in order to light up the night safely.
There are unfortunately thousands of injuries every year due to improper ladder use. Ladders should extend at least 3 feet above your roof or the surface you are attaching lights to. Never stand on your toes or the top rung of the ladder. If you have to do this, the ladder is not tall enough for your purposes. The second rung from the top is as high as you should climb on a step ladder.
For extension ladders, use the 4-to-1 Rule: for every four feet of distance between the ground and point of contact (such as the roof), move the base of the ladder out one foot. You never want to stand higher than the fourth rung from the top on an extension ladder.
No matter what type of ladder you are using, make sure it is safe before you climb. Ensure the rungs are dry and clean and all locks are secure. Wear slip-resistant shoes and clothes that will not get in your way. While on the ladder, keep your body weight centered and do not overreach. Both your feet should be securely planted on the ladder at all times.
Light and Circuit Safety
Many people like to use lots of lights to create awe-inspiring holiday displays, but it is important to use caution when powering all these lights. Overloaded circuits and loose connections can cause shocks and fires. If you are purchasing new lights for decorating, go for LED lights which burn cooler than incandescent lights. An added bonus of LED is that they use less power, so your electric bill won’t take as big of a hit.
Only buy lights from a reputable, trustworthy company. Quality lights will also come with safety information from the manufacturer, which you should be sure to read and adhere to. Plan your lighting display around available light sockets, keeping in mind not to overload any sockets. Do not connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together.
When mounting lights, be sure they are supported and affixed in a way that does not harm the insulation wrapping the wire. Only use lights that are specifically designed for outdoor use outside. These lights should be plugged in to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting outlet (GFCI). You can tell an outlet is a GFCI outlet because it will have “Test” and Reset” buttons on it. These outlets cut the current if it detects moisture or detects that the current is getting too hot. Once the conditions are corrected, you can press the “Reset” button and the lights should work properly again. Always unplug lights before you leave the house or go to sleep to prevent them from overheating.