SAFETY ASPECTS OF CHRISTMAS DIY LIGHTING
Everyone enjoys a festive atmosphere during the Christmas season. We pull out the family heirloom decorations, hang the mistletoe and string colorful lights. Christmas lighting displays seem to get more spectacular each year. Years ago, you’d see people lining edges of rooftops or windows and that was about it. These days, we see intricate displays, often with moving parts. The displays are fun and festive but you also want to make sure you’re lighting displays meet safety standards. Each year, poor lighting safety sparks hundreds of property damaging fires throughout Australia. Worse than losing property is losing a life to fire that could easily have been prevented. Using common sense precautions, we can enjoy the Christmas displays and be safe at the same time.
USE CORRECT EQUIPMENT
String lighting can be indoor only, outdoor only or safe for both. If you’re going to use lighting outdoors, make absolutely certain it’s manufactured for outdoor use. Look for extra low voltage lights.
When mixing strings of lights or spotlights with moving displays requiring motors, make sure all systems are compatible and your electrical source is sufficient for both the motor and the lights.
Use safety switches on your lighting circuits. They’re not absolutely mandatory but highly recommended and do save lives. The cost of installation is reasonable and much less expensive than dealing with fire damage.
LOCATION OF LIGHTS
When putting up displays, make sure you’re not stringing lights near power lines, pools or pathways. You don’t want to be swimming and have electrical lights falling into the pool following a gust of wind.
EXTRA SUPERVISION FOR LITTLE ONES
Young ones may require extra supervision during this festive time. Almost like moths, they’re attracted to pretty lights. Children often end up in the emergency room for doing foolish things such as taking scissors to a string of lights or chewing on them. Most fully recover but not always and spending time in the emergency room during Christmas isn’t very good for holiday spirit. Don’t take preventable chances with young ones. Make sure they’re well supervised when gazing at the fun displays.
ALWAYS TURN OFF AND UNPLUG
Since the light displays are best viewed in evening hours, make sure to turn them off at the power source and even unplug them during the day and before going to bed each night.
Turning off and unplugging should also be done during bad weather. High gusty winds, storms or even rainfall is enough reason to take this precaution.
Never leave your home with Christmas display lights on. Somebody should always be in residence when extra lighting is in use.
BEWARE OF CHEAP LIGHTING
Christmas can be an expensive time of year and people are generally trying to get the most bang for their buck. But don’t skimp on safety by purchasing below standard electrical lights or used ones. Lights that are below standard may look the same at first, but in use, you’ll notice fluctuation in brightness or random blinking. With used ones, you can’t be absolutely certain where they came from or how they were manufactured.
The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics tell us Christmas lighting worth more than $10 million is imported annually. Sometimes cheap below standard products get through. Australia has specific standards for lighting safety. Always look for the regulatory compliance mark logo on the box before you purchase. If in doubt, don’t be shy about asking the store manager or supplier for evidence of the product’s approval standard. If you don’t get the assurance required, do business elsewhere. This advice applies for in store as well as online purchases.
Basically, don’t become a statistic when it’s so easily avoided. By taking a few simple safety precautions and being vigilant with young ones, we can have a much safer and truly fun Christmas.
About the Author:
Rick Clark is the owner of Electricians Today and an expert in his industry. He is continuously helping households and businesses develop plans for a reduction in energy consumption and improving energy efficiency.