Submitted by Nikos Phelps, president, Utopian Landscape, a member of The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET)
It’s that time of year where home owners are busy decorating their exteriors with holiday lights and making them for festival for the holidays. Many landscape and lawn care companies support their clients year-round by providing snow removal and holiday lighting in the winter. There are many safety concerns that home owners should take into consideration when putting up their own holiday lights, such as:
1. Inspect the lights and wires.
Inspect all lights, decorations and extension cords before using. Wires can become brittle.Throw lights away if there is exposed copper or broken sockets.
2. Don’t overload circuits and watch for electrical concerns.
Avoid connecting five or more strands end to end, otherwise the circuit can be overloaded. However, for many LEDs you can add more than five strands. Also, do not pull the strands too tight so they can reach an outlet. Other electrical concerns to watch for:
- Tears in the wiring surface could result in electrocution.
- When creating a lighting configuration on a lawn, make sure to keep connections out of depressions that could collect ground water.
- Be sure to tape down extension cords if they cross walkways.
3. Read the labels carefully for outdoor use.
LED lights re more energy efficient and require less wattage than incandescent bulbs. But make sure the lights and extension cords are rated for indoor and outdoor use or specifically for outdoor use. Outdoor lights should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs.). Also, don’t replace light bulbs without unplugging the light strand or decoration.
4. Take caution on rooftops or elevated areas.
Ladders should be inspected – look for lose or missing screws, hinges, bolts and nuts before using and be sure they are stable and in good condition. Be sure to ground the ladder on a solid, even surface with no risk of sliding.
Don’t overreach when on ladders. When stringing lights, climb down and move the ladder often. Also, keep ladders as far as possible from electrical lines. Finally, if the roof is too steep or too high, don’t risk scaling it and endangering yourself. Hire a trained landscape professional that has the training to offer unique installation methods and premium quality products with the latest trends in decoration and technology.
5. Remove lights at the end of the holiday season. Over a period of time, lights exposed to the weather can have damage to the wires, lights, and sockets. Watch for any weather damage before you tow the lights away for next year.