Electricians offer holiday lighting safety advice

Electricians offer holiday lighting safety advice

Holiday lighting is meant to be fun and festive, but top-rated electricians warn that unsafe practices can lead to physical harm or serious property damage. Although it seems simple, electricians say many people unknowingly engage in dangerous practices while hanging holiday lights.

Angie’s List spoke with Chicago electrician Steve Berry of The Connection Electrical in Chicago, Steve Breton, a Boston electrician and owner of Breton Electric in Wakefield, Mass. and Christopher Paccione, a New York City electrician CEO of Christopher John Electrical in Brooklyn, N.Y. about safety tips for hanging holiday lights.

What safety tips do you have for homeowners who will be hanging Christmas lights on or around the home this year?

Berry: Check all strings of lights on the ground before they are hung and look for broken bulbs and frayed wires. Most people have the same string of lights for years. I also recommend switching to LED lights because you can plug as many strings together that you need without overloading them.

Paccione: Do not use extension cords. Extension cords greatly increase the chance of overloading circuits and the risk of fire. Make sure you have a weatherproof bubble type cover on your outdoor outlet to prevent water and corrosion from entering it. Lastly, make sure all outdoor outlets are GFI [ground-fault interrupter] protected to prevent electric shock.

Breton: We recommend switching to LED lights wherever possible. Along with being good for the environment and the pocketbook as to energy usage, they run cooler, so they are less of a fire hazard. Never run extension cords through windows or doors to power outside lighting. Along with potential damage to the cord if the window or door is closed on it, with no ground-fault protection, there is a risk of electrocution if the cord is exposed to water.

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